Barnsley rollercoaster crash victim returns to scene of accident as therapy

Leah Washington and Joe Pugh, who were injured in the Smiler rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers
Leah Washington and Joe Pugh, who were injured in the Smiler rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers
0
Have your say

One of the Barnsley victims of the Smiler rollercoaster crash returned to the scene at Alton Towers on the advice of his counsellor.

Joe Pugh, aged 19, was in the front carriage with his girlfriend Leah Washington when it smashed into another at the Staffordshire theme park.

He was left with life-changing injuries after both his kneecaps were shattered, while Ms Washington was one of two victims to have a leg amputated.

University student Joe, from Barnsley, said he had anxiety issues since the accident, which an investigation found was caused by human error.

He said: “I’m so proud of how far we’ve both come. I had counselling for six weeks after the accident because I had issues with being in confined spaces and was getting anxious in crowds.

“I even went back to Alton Towers because my counsellor recommended it. It’s incredibly difficult to talk about but I wanted to get stuff out of my mind. It has been such a traumatic year.

“I was in hospital for a month and was left with less than half a kneecap in my left knee and half a kneecap in my right one. I’ve been told I will recover but in the future I’ll need knee replacements so there is more surgery in the pipeline.”

Overall, 16 people were injured when the carriage they were in struck another that had come to a halt on the track on June 2.

Vicky Balch and Daniel Thorpe, from Buxton, Derbyshire, and Chandaben Chauhan, 49, of Wednesbury, West Midlands, were also seriously injured.

Owner Merlin Entertainments said the ride would reopen next year.

But Ms Balch, who had a leg amputated, has said she wants it shut for good.