Survivors speak of tragedy at fun-fair: Steel hoop 'had collapsed into path of Water Chute car'

ONE of the survivors of yesterday's accident at a South Wales amusement park said he saved himself from serious injury by ducking below the collapsed lighting gantry.

Raymond Verral, 17, had been sitting at the front of the open top car on the Water Chute ride at Coney Beach fairground, Porthcawl with his friend David Morgan, 15.

He said they realised something was wrong when they saw the horrified faces of people on the ground below. 'Then we spotted the steel hoop which had already collapsed and was in the path of the car. We ducked and it whistled straight over our heads but the others behind must have failed to notice it.

'When we got down and stopped I looked around and there was just blood everywhere,' he said.

Timothy Morgan, nine, was flung clear of the Water Chute ride and died at the scene. He had been sitting with his father Christopher, 46, at the back of the six-seat carriage.

Raymond, who knows the Morgan family from attending the Church of Latter Day Saints in Cardiff with David, said he was asked to join the family outing yesterday morning. The dead boy's mother, Theresa, and sister Sally had decided not to go on the day out.

Detective Superintendent John Williams of South Wales police, said that the Water Chute had been checked less than two weeks ago, and its owner had thought the ride safe to operate yesterday despite the wet and windy conditions. He said it would be 'very presumptuous' to say if the weather had played a part before accident investigators had examined the site.

Health and safety officials are due to return to the fairground this morning to begin their inquiries, and to examine the ride's maintenance records. The Water Chute will remain closed until their checks are completed.

A voluntary code of practice operated by the Health and Safety Executive and the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain stipulates that rides should be examined by an independent engineer every 14 months. Local authorities must also be satisfied on safety grounds before they will issue licences.

'We are responsible for general fairground safety, including the running of fairgrounds and the suitability of people to run an operation, but the safety of individual rides. . .is regulated on a voluntary basis,' an HSE spokeswoman said.

'Each piece of machinery has to be given the all-clear by an independent engineer, not appointed by the fairground owners, to the satisfaction of the Showmen's Guild. Our inspectors check safety further and there is also a local authority involvement.'

Fairground owners must insure rides, but there is no obligation to display a certificate of worthiness. An HSE report three years ago concluded that people were more likely to be injured as a result of drunken antics and badly trained attendants than from dangerous machinery. Of 55 accidents notified to the HSE in 1990, only two were caused by equipment failure.

In its study, the HSE found that people taking 10 fun-fair rides stand one chance in a million of being killed and were more likely to have an accident in their car on the way to the fairground.

In the past 10 years, at least 10 people have died and more than 560 been injured on fairground rides. Between 1981 and 1988 there were 220 serious injuries and 23 deaths. In 1985 there were six deaths.

Twelve people were injured when two rollercoaster carriages collided at Blackpool last August. In September 1992, a girl aged five was killed when she was thrown from a rollercoaster in Margate, Kent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions