Alton Towers owner admits guilt over rollercoaster crash

The owner of Alton Towers has indicated a guilty plea to health and safety charges over the rollercoaster crash that left five people seriously injured, including a young woman from Leyland who lost a leg.

Vicky Balch, 20, from Leyland suffered horrific injuries when the Smiler rollercoaster crashed last summer.

Vicky Balch arrives at North Staffordshire Justice Centre in Newcastle-under-Lyme

Vicky Balch arrives at North Staffordshire Justice Centre in Newcastle-under-Lyme

She ended up having to have her leg amputated after several failed surgeries.

Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd had previously accepted responsibility for the crash after carrying out its own internal investigation following the incident, in which one carriage collided with a stationary carriage on the same track.

Today’s guilty plea indication came as the case was being heard at North Staffordshire Justice Centre in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

District Judge Jack McGarva warned that the company “may be ordered to pay a very large fine”.

Vicky Balch who was injured in the accident at Alton Towers theme park

Vicky Balch who was injured in the accident at Alton Towers theme park

Entering a plea on behalf of the operator, Merlin’s counsel Simon Antrobus said: “I’m duly authorised on behalf of the company to enter a guilty plea to the charge.

“That will be subject to a basis of plea and will be for discussion and prior agreement with the prosecution in due course.”

He added: “The company is accepting additional reasonable and practicable measures could have been taken to guard against the safety risk that arose on the day.”

Also injured in the crash was Leah Washington, 17, who had her leg amputated above the knee.

Miss Washington’s boyfriend Joe Pugh, 18, shattered his knee and Daniel Thorpe, 27, a hotel assistant-manager from Buxton in Derbyshire was treated for a collapsed lung and fractured leg.

Chandaben Chauhan, 49, of Wednesbury, West Midlands, also suffered injuries.