Alton Towers crash victims praise rescuers

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford with Alton Towers rollercoaster crash victims (left to right) Daniel Thorpe, Leah Washington, Joe Pugh and Victoria Balch. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford with Alton Towers rollercoaster crash victims (left to right) Daniel Thorpe, Leah Washington, Joe Pugh and Victoria Balch. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo
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Two Barnsley teenagers who were injured in a rollercoaster crash have praised their rescuers at a special awards ceremony.

Leah Washington, aged 18, and her boyfriend Joe Pugh, 18, were hurt on The Smiler ride at Alton Towers in June.

Leah Washington and Joe Pugh with firefighters from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service

Leah Washington and Joe Pugh with firefighters from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service

Leah had to have her left leg amputated after the crash and Joe shattered both knees when two carriages collided.

The pair were among the victims and their families who attended a service where the firefighters who rescued them were honoured.

The crews were recognised for their professionalism while dealing with the complex four-and-a-half hour rescue operation.

Leah said: “The crews have been amazing, they were really caring at the time and also visited me in hospital afterwards which was lovely of them.

“They have talked me through what happened and what they did which was really helpful.

“I was really happy when I heard that they were going to be honoured for what they did to help us, they really deserve the award.”

Four people sat in the front of the carriage, including Leah and Ben, were seriously hurt, while another 12 were also injured.

Peter Dartford, chief fire officer at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue, presented certificates of commendation to the 25 crew members who dealt with the theme park horror.

He said: “The crews that dealt with the incident at Alton Towers did an absolutely amazing job in incredibly challenging circumstances.

“Their priority was to safely release the casualties as quickly as possible without adding to their injuries.

“I can’t think of a more deserving team of people to be awarded a certificate of commendation.”