Barnsley rollercoaster crash victim vows to ‘live normal life’

Brave Leah Washington has pledged to ‘start to live a normal life’ following the horrifying rollercoaster crash .

Leah Washington from Barnsley who lost a leg in a horrific accident at Alton Towers
Leah Washington from Barnsley who lost a leg in a horrific accident at Alton Towers

Leah, aged 18, from Barnsley, was in the front row of the Smiler ride at Alton Towers in June when it crashed into an empty carriage, leaving her with injuries that meant medics were forced to amputate her left leg.

Leah was initially only able to use her prosthetic leg for a few minutes at a time _ but hours of physiotherapy now mean she is strong enough to keep it on all day.

Leah Washington

The teenager, who wants to be a teacher, deferred her place at Leeds Trinity University this September.

She said: “I haven’t decided what I am doing yet. I haven’t decided whether to have another year off to get myself back to where I was before. I don’t want to rush things and go back before I am ready.”

Leah added: “I just want to get walking on my prosthetic and start to live a normal life before I make any future plans. I still want to go into teaching but I don’t know when.

“I first used my prosthetic leg in August, as time has gone on I have built up how long I can wear it for. I can do it for a full day now, depending on what I am doing.”

Leah and boyfriend Joe Pugh, 19, who was also injured in the crash, have raised £21,000 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

She said: “It is a good thing that Joe and I went through it together because we can talk about it together, we went through the same thing so we understand where each other are coming from.

“The experiences we have had, like having a charity event that raised £21,000, is something we wouldn’t have had if what happened to us didn’t happen.”

As her recovery continues, she insists she is not planning too far ahead, adding:

The nature of her accident means she initially found it hard to talk about without crying, but she said: “Because I have told it quite a few times now I am used to it and it has become easier as time goes on. It is still hard to think about it and talk about it. It has got easier from when I first opened up about everything.”

And although the events at Alton Towers still come up in her thoughts daily, Leah says she does not bear any anger towards the theme park: “They have been so supportive with us and so helpful.”

Her grandmother Thelma Walton asked their local Co-operative Bank to support a fundraising event the teenager had organised with fellow crash victim Joe Pugh.

That led to a special festive campaign, running across 86 branches in the North of England and Scotland to raise funds for local air ambulance charities. In Yorkshire, 10 Co-operative Bank branches took part.

All money raised for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance was due to be match-funded by the bank.