08:30 Tuesday 31 December 2013

Injured couple get free Towers tickets

Written byJENNY MOODY

Smiler Times Smiler Times

A COUPLE injured when debris came off Alton Towers newest rollercoaster have been compensated with free theme park tickets for a year.

Kevin Hayes-Heath and his partner Wayne were both injured when the guide wheels came off The Smiler in November, causing the ride to be closed while a full investigation was carried out.

While enjoying the £18 million ride, which was continually hit with problems when it first opened its doors to the public, Mr Hayes-Heath was hit by a piece of debris in the shoulder and his partner in the face.

Two other thrill-seekers, a father and his teenage daughter, were also hit while experiencing the world-first rollercoaster, the couple said.

Mr Hayes-Heath said: “It took some emails backwards and forwards and a call into the Merlin Group headquarters in Poole, Dorset, but finally we came to the agreement.”

As well as the free tickets, the couple said their park tickets on that day had been refunded.

An Alton Towers has refused to comment on any settlements made with the guests.

A spokeswoman said: “I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to discuss guest resolutions as we consider them to be a private matter between the individuals concerned.”

No-one required any hospital treatment after the November incident.

The 14-loop rollercoaster hit been repeatedly hit by problems since it opened in May with the officially opening delayed due to ‘technical difficulties’.

It was again shut for four days on 21 July after a piece fell off the track leading to 48 people having to be rescued.

‘Technical issues’ again led to the ride being closed in August for five days while the theme park got The Smiler back on track.

At the time of this latest incident, a spokesman said: “We can confirm The Smiler remains closed following a technical issue, in which a number of small, plastic guide wheels became detached from the lift hill chain guard.

“These were caught beneath the track in the safety netting, but regrettably several were flicked into the four guests sitting in the front row of the train.

“As you would expect from the UK’s most famous theme park, all of the rides and attractions are expected to meet extremely high standards, technologically, mechanically and in terms of the end experience and therefore, despite the fact the ride could have continued to operate safely, we chose to close it immediately to enable us to begin a full investigation.

“We are very sorry for any disappointment but the health and safety of all of our visitors is our absolute priority.”

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