Lightwater Valley fined £350k after little boy thrown from rollercoaster

Lightwater Valley has been fined £350,000 after a boy fell from one of its rollercoasters.

Saturday, 5th December 2020, 5:21 pm
Updated Saturday, 5th December 2020, 5:23 pm

The seven-year-old suffered life-changing injuries after he slipped from the Twister ride in the theme park in Ripon, North Yorkshire.

The boy was airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary on May 30, 2019, with serious head injuries, York Magistrates’ Court head.

The child’s mother spoke of 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.’

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Police at the ride after incident in 2019 (photo: SWNS).

The theme park’s procedures for the Twister ride stated that those between 1.2m and 1.5m tall must wear seat belts - but several children under 1.5m in height were not wearing seat belts on the ride, an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found.

Evidence for this was seen in CCTV footage over several days and mentioned in statements by members of the public.

On examination of the restraining systems, many belts were not functioning correctly, the HSE said.

On several occasions, the final position of the lap bar restraint allowed significant gaps to remain and did not fully contain smaller passengers.

The Twister ride (photo: HSE).

Lightwater Valley Attractions Ltd, registered in Acreman Street, Sherborne, Dorset, pleaded guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The park was fined £333, 344 and ordered to pay costs of £16,183.

In 2001, student Gemma Savage, 20, died when two cars collided on the Treetop Twister ride at the theme park.

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.”

A Lightwater Valley spokesperson said: "We have from the outset accepted full responsibility for this accident and our sincere and heartfelt apologies go out to the young boy, his family and his friends.

"We have co-operated fully throughout the HSE’s investigation and are carefully considering the fine imposed by the Court.

"Since the incident we have been providing support and assistance to the family and will continue to do so.

"The health and safety of visitors to our park remains our top priority and we are determined that an incident such as this will never happen again.

"We have undertaken a full review of our health and safety systems and procedures following the accident."