Alton Towers Smiler crash amputees Vicky Balch and Leah Washington sue theme park owners for millions over ‘safety failings’

WOMEN who each lost a leg in the Alton Towers Smiler rollercoaster crash are suing the owners for millions of pounds.

Leah Washington, 20, and Vicky Balch, 23, are claiming “catastrophic personal injury”, after they became injured when their carriage ploughed into another stationary one.

Leah was on a date with boyfriend Joe Pugh, 18, when the accident happened
PA:Press Association

Leah was on a date with boyfriend Joe Pugh when the accident happened[/caption]

The Mirror reports Vicky’s claim, lodged at the High Court this week, accuses the firm of: “Failing to take any or any adequate care to ensure the reasonable safety of the Claimant whilst on the Smiler.”

The pair could get about £2million each in compensation, experts believe.

Vicky’s claim also states: “In his sentencing remarks, the judge said the accident was foreseeable and he was satisfied the Defendant fell far short of the appropriate standard.”

The accident in June 2015 was put down to human error and Alton Towers owner Merlin Attractions was fined £5million for health and safety breaches.

Dan Charity – The Sun

Vicky Balch could get about £2million in compensation, experts think[/caption]

Dan Charity – The Sun

The young woman lost a leg in the accident at Alton Towers in 2015[/caption]

Emergency services raced to the scene, which saw two victims lose a leg
Mercury Press

Emergency services raced to the scene, which saw two victims lose a leg[/caption]

Firefighters and emergency workers free passengers from the Smiler ride
SWNS:South West News Service

Firefighters and emergency workers free passengers from the Smiler ride after the 2015 crash[/caption]

An investigation found an engineer had wrongly restarted the Smiler ride while a stationary carriage was on the track in front of it.

Judge Michael Chambers QC described the accident as a “catastrophic failure” and said it was entirely avoidable.

Interim payments have been paid to cover medical and physio bills.

Vicky is now registered as disabled and must replace her prosthetic leg every few years – but found love with athlete and BBC countryfile star Steve Brown, and took to the catwalk as a model.

Leah was on a date with boyfriend Joe Pugh when the accident happened – Joe suffered shattered kneecaps in the accident.

Others hurt included Daniel Thorpe, 27, from Buxton in Derbyshire, was treated for a collapsed lung and lower leg injuries.

Chanda Chauhan, 49, from Wednesbury, had surgery after suffering internal injuries.

Last month we reported how Alton Towers’ general manager Ian Crabbe, who has worked at the Staffordshire theme park for eight years, said he is haunted by the disaster.

The teen's left leg was so badly crushed doctors amputated it below the knee
Channel 5

Leah’s left leg was so badly crushed doctors amputated it below the knee[/caption]

In a Channel 4 documentary “Inside Alton Towers”, Mr Crabbe opened up about how staff reacted to the crash.

Merlin told the Mirror: “From the outset we have admitted liability and have engaged fully at all times to achieve settlement for all the claimants as quickly as possible.”

The Sun Online has approached Alton Towers for additional comment.

Leah, from Barnsley, South Yorks, was learning to run earlier this year at a Pace Rehabilitation centre under the guidance of a professional physiotherapist.

The centre tweeted: “Leah is learning to run again on her running trial prosthesis with physio Carolyn.”

The teenager shared the video and added: “This is my first time running since my accident. It felt amazing.”

Describing the incident, she recalled: “I can remember everything. It was like driving a car into a brick wall.

“I knew my knees were bad because I could feel flesh but I couldn’t feel pain and just thought I had broken some bones.”


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