Lawyers for three of the four people seriously injured in the Alton Towers rollercoaster crash have welcomed the admission of liability from Merlin Entertainments.
The British company, which owns and operates the Staffordshire theme park, said it accepted full responsibility for last week’s crash and said it would provide compensation “swiftly and sensitively” to all 16 victims.
As it emerged that a 17-year-old who was among those hurt has had part of her leg amputated, lawyers for her and two others said they would be meeting the owners of Alton Towers this week to discuss the release of money.
Leah Washington had her left leg amputated above the knee, University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS trust said on Monday. Washington also fractured her hand in the crash on the Smiler ride last Tuesday. Her boyfriend, Joe Pugh, sustained two broken knees and extensive hand injuries in the crash, the hospital said.
The third victim, 20-year-old Vicky Balch, remained in a serious but stable condition. Earlier reports had said both her legs were crushed in the accident.
Best theme parks in the UK
Best theme parks in the UK
1/10 Legoland, Berkshire
Families can have a swashbuckling time in the new Pirate Shores area and splash and play in DUPLO Valley. Then there’s the seemingly endless rides, many of which don’t have height restrictions, making this a particularly good option for younger children. If you can afford it, buy a Q-Bot as queues get long on busy days. Online from £35.10 for adults; £31.05 for children. Under threes go free.
2/10 Alton Towers, Staffordshire
CBeebies land is the latest addition, serving as a reminder that Alton Towers isn’t just about white knuckle rides. Mind you, this theme park does do adrenalin rushes particularly well, what with Nemesis, Rita, Air and Oblivion and most recently, the Smiler, the world’s first 14 looping rollercoaster, with added psychological effects. Online from £36.90 for adults; £32.40 for children. Under fours go free.
3/10 Lightwater Valley, North Yorkshire
Located near the cathedral city of Ripon, and only half-an-hour’s drive from Harrogate, this is home to Europe’s longest rollercoaster, the six-minute Ultimate. Attractions for less fearless types include the Angry Birds activity park, the Eagles Creek petting farm with tractor rides, and the Lightwater Valley Falconry, with raptor displays. Online over 1m from £19.50; under 1m from £5. Under twos go free.
4/10 Thorpe Park, Surrey
Height and speed are the name of the game with rides at Thorpe Park, with some of the highest and fastest rides in Europe among the 30 rides and attractions. It’s well laid out, with plenty of space to spread out for a picnic and as there are five big water rides, prepare to get soaked. If you need to stay over, consider the new Thorpe Shark Hotel. Online from £25.99 for over 12s; £23.99 for under 12s. Children under 1m are free.
5/10 Paultons Park, Hampshire
Littluns will love Peppa Pig World, with its undeniably cheery vibe and seven Peppa-themed rides. Then there’s the main park, which is great for all ages, from the all-new hand-crafted Victorian carousel to EDGE, where riders swoop and spin on a giant disc. We’re not sure why, but queues seem to be shorter here than some of the other theme parks. Online adult or child (over 1 metre) tickets from £23.50. Children under 1 metre go free.
6/10 Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Lancashire
Tie your theme park visit with a trip to the seaside. There’s an impressive 125 rides and attractions across 42 acres at the end of Blackpool’s promenade, with plenty of new ones including InFusion, Big One and Valhalla. Other attractions include an ice skating arena, adventure golf course and even a museum, plus our favourite – the Wallace & Gromit ride, Thrill-O-Matic. Online adult wristbands from £19.99; Junior wristbands from £17.99. Under twos go free. Or get a Pleasure Beach Pass for £6, which includes several attractions and a show.
7/10 Drayton Manor Theme Park, Staffordshire
It doesn’t get better than this for Thomas fans, who will not believe their eyes when they get to Thomas Land, the only attraction of its kind in Europe. Among the themes for slightly older kids is Ben 10, while adrenalin junkies can enjoy the new Air Race and Apocalypse, which has been voted as UK’s scariest ride. There’s a zoo too. Online from £20 for 60+ year-olds; £25 for 12-59 year-olds; £20 4-11 year-olds. Under fours go free.
8/10 Chessington World of Adventures & Zoo, Surrey
New for 2014 is the new Chessington Azteca Hotel, with 69 themed rooms that overlook Chessington’s awesome wildlife. Fear not if you’re not staying over, as animal lovers can enjoy the zoo and Sea Life Centre, as well as the 40 rides and attractions, or combine both with Zufari: Ride into Africa, which features encounters with flamingos, giraffes, antelope and rhino. Online prices for adults and children from £25. Children under 0.9m go free
9/10 M&D’s, Lanarkshire
This is Scotland’s biggest theme park. Stand-out rides include Tsunami, the only inverted rollercoaster ride in Scotland with corkscrew twists, turns and loops, while Amazonia is Scotland only indoor tropical rainforest. The High Diving Pirates have a great new show on this year. Unusually, parking is free. Online wristband for under1.3m from £13.10; over 1.3m £17.50. Under 2s go free, depending on height.
10/10 Oakwood Theme Park, Pembrokeshire
Oakwood is the only theme park in Wales and home to Megafobia, voted the best ride in the UK and third best ride in the world by the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain. Be warned queues can be up to three hours for this ride alone, though. Worried it will rain? Take cover in the new Hook’s House of Havoc, a giant new pirate-themed indoor soft play centre. Online £19.50 for over 13s; £13.50 for 3-12s. Under threes go free.
“We are deeply saddened by the news about Leah and all our thoughts are with her and her family. We cannot undo the events of last week but everyone in the company and at Alton Towers is determined to do all we can to provide appropriate support to those who were injured and their families,” Merlin Chief Executive Nick Varney said in a statement.
Shares in Merlin Entertainments have fallen four per cent in a week on reports that it was losing £500,000 pounds a day while the park was shut. But experts suggest compensation claims and subsequent legal bills could run into millions of pounds as damages are sought for one of the worst theme park accidents in recent history.
Ms Washington’s father issued a statement in which he said: “Leah has suffered a life-changing injury and now has many months of rehabilitation ahead of her. We would like to thank all the emergency services at the scene and all the hospital staff who saved Leah’s life.”
Paul Paxton, head of Personal Injury at Stewarts Law, representing the three families, said: "I will be meeting with the solicitors acting for Merlin and its insurers this week to discuss the early release of money to assist with financial hardship and rehabilitation."
Thrill-seekers queued to enter as the premises reopened on Monday. Among those visiting were Nina Lancaster and Daniella Dobson who took their 15-year-old daughters to the venue because they thought “today would be the safest day”.Reuse content