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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Administrator

£10000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Developer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital agency is looking ...

Guru Careers: Financial Director / FD / Senior Finance Manager

Up to 70k DOE: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Financial Director ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company has been manufacturing high quali...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen