London - The British rollercoaster on which two girls suffered life-changing injuries broke down again on Thursday – leaving dozens of terrified riders stranded in mid-air.
Thrill-seekers on the Smiler ride at Alton Towers were left stranded for more than an hour.
It is just five months since the £18-million ride reopened following a horrific crash which injured 16 people.
Bosses of the Staffordshire theme park said they stopped the ride at 11.15am to investigate claims of debris on the track – leaving one carriage hanging vertically as it climbed up a large drop.About 32 terrified passengers were left dangling as their hats and shoes fell off. Witnesses said they were “white as a sheet” when they eventually made it to the ground safely.
Witness Liam Dennett, 33, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, said: “We were about to go on it and then somebody came over the tannoy saying that there had been technical problems with the ride.
“We left the queue and spotted one of the carriages precariously hanging vertically as it was going up a slope before one of the big drops.People’s hats and shoes were falling off and it was really hot and you could see they were in a lot of discomfort and pretty scared.
“You can’t blame them, after what happened last year I imagine they were terrified.
“Even if they get it back up and running, there’s no chance in hell you’ll get me on that thing.
“You have to question whether it should ever have been reopened.”
In June last year five people were seriously hurt when two carriages on the rollercoaster smashed into each other.
Leah Washington, 18, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and Vicky Balch, 20, from Leyland, Lancashire, were both forced to undergo leg amputations. Their boyfriends Joe Pugh, 18, also from Barnsley and Daniel Thorpe, 28, from Buxton, Derbyshire, also suffered serious leg injuries, along with 49-year-old Chandaben Chauhan.
An Alton Towers spokesperson said: “Alton Towers Resort stopped The Smiler to investigate claims a piece of debris that had fallen from a carriage.
“At no time were guests on the ride at any risk and all were safely removed from the ride promptly by staff in line with our comprehensive standard procedures.As the health and safety of our guests is our priority, the ride will remain closed while the resort’s technical team investigate the matter.”