Alton Towers "sorry" after Doncaster mum and son trapped on troubled Smiler rollercoaster

Alton Towers has apologised to a Doncaster mum and son who were trapped on the theme park's ill-fated Smiler rollercoaster.

Tuesday, 13th September 2016, 8:45 am
Updated Thursday, 15th September 2016, 2:48 pm
Doncaster mum Karaline Reed was trapped on the Smiler for 35 minutes.
Doncaster mum Karaline Reed was trapped on the Smiler for 35 minutes.

Karaline Reed, 39, and son Johnny, 19, were left stranded on the ride for more than half an hour - 14 months after the same rollercoaster smashed in a horror accident which injured 16 people, five seriously and which saw two female passengers each have to have a leg amputated.

The pair were among dozens of riders left stranded when the ride was stopped during a visit to the Staffordshire theme park last Friday.

The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers.

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Now the visitor attraction has apologised to the pair after the incident, the latest in a long line of problems which have dogged the ride since its opening in 2013.

A spokesman said: “On the afternoon of Friday 9 September, The Smiler did experience a minor stoppage.

"The ride was performing exactly as it is designed to do to ensure the safety of everyone on board and at no point was anyone at risk.

"We are sorry that guests did experience a short delay in the operation of the ride, however as the health, safety and welfare of everyone at the park is always our main priority, our teams will always take as long as is required to make sure that all of our guests remain safe at all times.”

The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers.

The ride only re-opened earlier this year after a crash last June which saw two female riders - Vicky Balch and Leah Washington - each have to have a leg amputated.

Said Karaline: "Thankfully, no one was hurt and we weren't left dangling upside down. But we were stuck on there for 35 minutes. After what's happened with that ride it is disgusting that there's still problems."

The pair had already ridden The Smiler, which holds the world record for the most inversions on a rollercoaster when they decided to make a third and final trip.

She said: "We had already been on it a couple of times, along with plenty of other rides. Whilst walking to the Smiler queue for the third time I turned to Johnny and said: 'Is this tempting fate? It could be third time unlucky."

The pair, from Oak Crescent, Thorne, climbed on board the rollercoaster - and were horrified as it ground to a halt, just a few feet from the carriage in front.

She said: "I can't imagine how the people felt on the roller coaster car in front of us whilst we came speeding up behind their stopped car - I would've been physically sick."

"When we stopped behind the car in front, an announcement came straight through saying there was some technical difficulties and they would sort it as soon as possible.

"Within a few minutes, a member of staff came to talk to us telling us that they would get us going soon and it wouldn't be long.

"I can't believe that they even thought about setting it off again with people on especially after what happened last year."

She added: "We were all the right way up thankfully and no one was hurt but we were frightened. The cars still hadn't moved when we left half an hour later."

Initially, The Smiler was expected to make its public debut in March 2013 for the park's opening day, but due to construction delays, the date was pushed back to May of that year

The date had to be pushed back further after technical issues were encountered during testing and a ride incident occurred during its preview event that stranded riders on the lift hill.