Merlin Entertainments, the owners of theme park Alton Towers, have pleaded guilty to criminally breaching health and safety laws in the Smiler rollercoaster crash in 2015.
The crash saw two people suffer amputated legs, whilst a further three suffered “life-changing” injuries. 16 people in total were injured, to varying degrees.
It was reported that the reason behind the crash was a manual override, allowing a carriage carrying over a dozen park visitors to enter the ride whilst an empty carriage stood still on a lower section.
The piece of legislation used to prosecute Merlin Entertainments is the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Alton Towers reopened the Smiler ride in March, roughly nine months after the crash.
The fine the owners face is unlimited, under the safety sentencing guidelines.
This was a long time coming for Merlin. The amputations for the two young women are the kinds of injuries deemed life changing. For one, it meant loss of employment, additionally, as she was a dancer before the incident. The other injuries range from internal bleeding to broken kneecaps and lengthy rehabilitation. This is not considering the trauma suffered mentally, which can not be measured in the same way as broken bones.
For those reasons, many are expecting the monetary penalties against Alton Towers – with consideration of the income of the park – to be in the millions.