Theme park’s safety failures left boy, 7, with life-changing injuries after fall
A seven-year-old suffered life-changing injuries after being hurled from a rollercoaster and plummeting 30ft at a theme park where glaring safety failings were exposed.
Inspectors sent to North Yorkshire’s Lightwater Valley in the wake of the tragic incident on the Twister ride in May last year found malfunctioning seat belts and evidence height limits were not being enforced.
The park has now been fined £333,000.
Speaking to York Magistrates’ the child’s mother told how “the little boy I took to Lightwater Valley that day is not the same boy that woke up after the surgery.
“I still grieve for my little boy”, she added.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found although the Ripon theme park’s procedures for Twister stated those between 1.2 metres and 1.5m tall must wear seat belts, several children under 1.5m in height were not.
CCTV footage over several days and statements from members of the public exposed the failing.
Examinations of the belts also exposed several were not functioning properly, while significant gaps remained when belts were fastened meaning smaller passengers were not contained.
Lightwater Valley Attractions, registered in Sherborne, Dorset, admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £333,344 and ordered to pay costs of £16,183.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andrea Jones said: “A child suffered life-changing head injuries at Lightwater Valley theme park.
“Our investigation found that the theme park did not implement suitable operating procedures and monitoring of ride operators in relation to the ride restraints.
“This was an entirely avoidable incident. Several children were put at risk and Lightwater Valley has now been held to account for their failings.”
The boy fell 30ft from the cart he was in with his mum and was airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary in a critical condition – he remained there for a month.
Twister spins waltzer-style around a twisting rollercoaster track at the park.
It was described by the park as giving riders “the impression that they might not make it around the next corner, with the threat of plummeting into the treetops” on the official Lightwater Valley theme park website.
The information on the web page was later removed.
The park’s management said at the time it was “devastated” at the news of the boy’s injuries.