Alton Towers crash victims praise ‘amazing’ rescuers

Thanks: Vicky Balch, from Leyland, right, with firefighters and victimes
Thanks: Vicky Balch, from Leyland, right, with firefighters and victimes
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Alton Towers roller-coaster crash victims, including Vicky Balch from Leyland, have praised their “amazing” rescuers at an awards ceremony.

Ms Balch was among four people on the front of The Smiler ride when it crashed into an empty carriage earlier this year leaving her badly hurt.

The 20-year-old, who had to have her leg amputated, was joined at the ceremony in honour of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service by her partner Daniel Thorpe, as well as Leah Washington and her boyfriend Joe Pugh, 18, from Barnsley.

In all, 25 firefighters from seven stations were given top service accolade the chief fire officer’s certificate of commendation for risking their own lives to save others on June 2.

Ms Washington, who also had to have her leg amputated as a result of the crash, said: “The crews have been amazing, they were really caring at the time and also visited me in hospital afterwards which was lovely of them.

“They have talked me through what happened and what they did which was really helpful.

“I was really happy when I heard that they were going to be honoured for what they did to help us, they really deserve the award.”

All four were seriously injured, with emergency services working carefully for hours, nearly 30ft off the ground, to free them from the front of the carriage.

Another 12 passengers were also taken off successfully.

Mr Thorpe, from Buxton in Derbyshire, said he was delighted to see the fire crews honoured.

He added: “They were extremely professional throughout the rescue and even their presence was a huge comfort during a traumatic time.

“They have been really helpful following the incident, filling in the gaps about things that we don’t remember.

“Having a clearer picture of the events has made it a lot easier to cope with.

“I can’t thank them enough for everything they have done.”

Chief fire officer Peter Dartford said: “The crews that dealt with the incident at Alton Towers did an absolutely amazing job in incredibly challenging circumstances.”