Stoke & Staffordshire

Alton Towers' Smiler victims want ride to stay closed

(L to r) Daniel Thorpe, Vicky Balch, Joe Pugh, Leah Washington Image copyright Facebook
Image caption (l-r) Daniel Thorpe, Vicky Balch, Joe Pugh and Leah Washington were among those seriously injured

Victims of the Smiler rollercoaster crash say they wish the ride would remain closed.

Joe Pugh and Vicky Balch spoke on the eve of the ride reopening for the new season at Alton Towers.

They suffered life-changing injuries when the carriage smashed into another car at the Staffordshire theme park last June. Miss Balch, along with another passenger, Leah Washington, had to have a leg amputated.

In total 16 people were hurt.

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Image copyright West Midlands Ambulance Service
Image caption Miss Balch said she felt Alton Towers was putting money before people

Speaking to ITV's Good Morning Britain, Mr Pugh, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, said: "I think it would have been a bit unrealistic if we had both said 'I don't think it's ever going to reopen again' because it always was going to, but if people choose to go on it, that's up to them.

"Seeing it go round, it's not something that I want to see. I would have preferred for it to be closed."

Miss Balch, from Lancashire, told ITV News she felt Alton Towers was putting money before people.

"I've never wanted it to reopen, that's just the obvious reaction," she said.

"I understand it's a business and it's what they have to do. I just didn't think it'd be so soon. It's only nine months, it's not a very long time.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Smiler is to reopen after being closed for nine months following the crash

"But at the end of the day it feels like the money comes before the people on the ride."

Daniel Thorpe, from Buxton, Derbyshire, and Chandaben Chauhan, from Wednesbury, West Midlands, were also seriously injured in the incident, which park owner Merlin Entertainments said was due to human error.

The Health and Safety Executive is prosecuting Merlin over the crash and the company is due in court in April.

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