South Yorkshire Alton Towers rollercoaster smash victim marks fifth anniversary of tragedy

A South Yorkshire woman who lost a leg in a horror rollercoaster smash at Alton Towers has told how her ‘life was changed forever’ on the fifth anniversary of the accident.

Leah Washington, 23, was forced to have a leg amputated after the Smiler rollercoaster at the Staffordshire theme park ploughed into a stationary carriage on the track at high speed.

But Leah, from Barnsley, took to Instagram on the fifth anniversary of the crash earlier this week, to share a picture of herself raising a glass of bubbly and describing 'all the obstacles she has overcome since the horror smash on June 2, 2015.

She wrote: “Five years ago today my life changed forever, I can’t believe how quick the 5 years have gone and obstacles I have overcome since that day and the amazing opportunities that have arisen for me.

Leah Washington marked the fifth anniversary of the horror smash with a glass of champagne. (Photo: Instagram).

“I want to thank my friends, family and boyfriend for your continued support throughout everything, also my followers every single one of you are so kind & send me such lovely messages & comment positive things on my posts!'.

The post racked up over 2,000 likes and a whole host of supportive comments.

Last week Leah and her boyfriend Joe Pugh celebrated their fifth anniversary - almost five years to the day they enjoyed 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.