Big Dipper collision injures 21September 2, 2010
21 passengers riding on the famous Blackpool Pleasure Beach ‘Big Dipper’ rollercoaster have suffered from broken bones, back and neck injuries, whiplash, and bruises after a collision on the tracks.
Fire and Rescue services were called to the scene at around 19:47, Tuesday evening. 11 out of the 32 passengers riding on the rollercoaster had already been rescued by staff at the Blackpool Pleasure Beach resort.
Firefighters used specialist rope equipment, including an aerial ladder platform and stretchers, to save the remaining 21 riders, with 2 of the victims having to be cut out of their seats. I victim was still trapped an hour after the emergency services had arrived.
A total of 21 people were taken into Blackpool Victoria Hospital, after suffering mostly minor injuries. Unfortunately, 3 riders, including a teenage boy, have suffered more serious injuries. None of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening.
The accident occurred after one train suddenly halted 20 feet in the air. The following train then collided into the rear of the first, and rolled backwards into a dip.
Martin McKay, 27, had travelled from East Kilbride in Scotland to the Pleasure Beach, with his family. He was on the ride with one of his children and said: “One car crashed into the other. We were going quite fast at the time, around 30 miles an hour at a guess.”
The Big Dipper rollercoaster can reach up to 60mph, and the ride lasts approximately 2.5 minutes.
Onlookers expressed their shock as they heard young boys screaming for help after the two trains had collided.
Stephen Jones, from Willenhall in the West Midlands, and his wife, Karen, witnessed the frightening incident. He said: “We were about to leave when we heard a huge smash and a young boy screaming from the back “get me out of here!”
“We didn’t know what to do, but within minutes the ambulance was there, as well as fire crews.
“There was a massive crowd and we soon realised how serious it was after people were taken down on stretchers.
“It was shocking witnessing it all.”
South Shore fire station manager, Mark Alderson, said: “There was obviously great concern when we arrived as some people had family members up on the ride. Many were extremely upset and distressed.
“Our crews were able to safely escort most people off the ride by guiding them down the tracks, providing physical support and reassurance that we would get them safely down.”
Emergency services had left the scene by 10:30pm.
A spokesperson for the Lancashire Police said “The scene will be preserved for the Health and Safety Executive engineers to do inspections to find out what happened.”
Similarly, a spokesman for Blackpool Pleasure Beach added: “Investigations are under way to establish the cause of the incident.
“Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, is co-operating fully with the emergency services and the Heath and Safety Executive.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has now launched an investigation into the cause of the crash.
Use of the Big Dipper has been ceased until it is declared fully safe to ride by the HSE.
There have never been any serious accidents on the 86 year old Big Dipper, built in 1923 by John Miller.