Engagement joy for Leah Washington and Joe Pugh, seriously injured in Alton Towers ride horror

A South Yorkshire couple who were seriously injured in a rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers are set to marry.

Thursday, 17th March 2022, 4:36 pm

Leah Washington and Joe Pugh were both teenagers when they were hurt when the Smiler ride crashed in 2015. Leah's leg was later amputated and Joe had shattered kneecaps.

But now they have announced they are engaged to be married, after Joe proposed during a holiday in Venice.

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Leah Washington and Joe Pugh were both teenagers when they were hurt when the Smiler ride crashed in 2015. Leah's leg was later amputated and Joe had shattered kneecaps. But now they have announced they are engaged to be married, after Joe proposed during a holiday in Venice. Leah is pictured showing the engagement ring. PIcture: Leah Washington /Joe Pugh

Leah showed off her engagement ring on her Instagram page.

She said: "So this happened yesterday… I SAID YES."

Joe wrote on his Instagram; "What a great end to a long weekend in Venice… SHE SAID YES"

The couple, from Barnsley, were among 16 injured in the crash, five of them seriously, when two carriages on the ride collided.

23 dec 2015....Leah Washington from Barnsley who lost a leg in a horrific accident at Alton Towers earlier this year. Picture Scott Merrylees

Leah and Joe have remained a couple ever since the incident on their first date at the amusement park.

Leah was one of two young passengers who lost a leg, while Joe suffered devastating injuries himself including two shattered kneecaps.

An investigation into the accident concluded that the crash was due to human error; an engineer had wrongly restarted the ride while a stationary carriage was on the track in front of it.

Alton Towers owner Merlin Attractions were fined £5million for health and safety breaches which were blasted by Judge Michael Chambers QC as a 'catastrophic failure'.

They were fined an initial £5million, and interim payments have covered Leah and Joe's medical and physio bills to date - but the pair have also submitted a 'substantial' compensation claim.

Leah's £60,000 prosthetic leg - which contains a microprocessor knee - will need replacing every few years, which will amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds over her lifetime.

At least 16 were injured and five people were seriously hurt in the smash with Vicky Balch from Leyland, Lancashire, also undergoing a leg amputation.

The trapped ride-goers had to wait more than four hours to be freed from the crumpled carriage while rescue workers battled to reach them as they sat 25ft up in the air at an angle of about 45 degrees, pinned in by the mangled metal.