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I'd read the recent stories about Nick Varney visiting Vicky Balch who was one of the amputees. I noticed this in one of the the stories though posted this morning:

 

First they announced the findings of the company’s internal investigation into the devastating accident – it had been caused by human error.

 

An external investigation into the crash by the Health and Safety Executive is continuing.

 

Alton Towers bosses told the Balch family that a ride operator and an engineer were at fault for overriding the system which had stopped Vicky’s car at the top of an incline, causing it to smash into an empty car on the track.

 

As everyone expected but its the first 'official' human error announcement I've seen.

 

Full article

 

 

In another article a statement in response to rumours of the ride reopening was released:

 

But Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments' has issued a statement and said this would only happen when all necessary safety checks had been made.

 

His full statement said: "In early September I went to visit each of those most seriously injured in the incident at Alton Towers to share with them the findings to date of our internal investigation into what happened.

 

"I was joined by Ian Crabbe. (Divisional director. Alton Towers Resort)

 

"I told them that our investigation had found that there was no single cause for the incident but that it was due to an exceptional set of circumstances, and I absolutely stressed that we took responsibility because our safety processes and protocols failed to prevent it.

 

"Whilst the investigation by the Health & Safety Executive was, and remains, ongoing, I felt it was important that, having reached some initial conclusions, we should inform the families in person and before they heard about it from some other source.

 

"I was also concerned to check that the victims were getting all the support we promised when I saw them immediately after the incident.

 

"On the 27 July, approximately a month before these meetings, Merlin Entertainments reported in a stock exchange announcement that the number of visitors to Alton Towers had significantly reduced following the crash, with a subsequent impact on our revenues.

 

"I was asked about this, and I was very open and made no complaint about the impact on our business as the crash was our responsibility.

 

"I also said that we expected our business would take a long period of time to return to previous levels, and we understood and accepted this.

 

"As part of these meetings I thought that it was important that I should discuss the potential for a reopening of the Smiler ride directly with those affected.

 

"The press had already reported that it was our aspiration that at some point in the future the ride would re-open.

 

"I said that this would only happen after all the necessary safety checks had been made, and following consultation with the HSE.

 

"Whilst it is true that I discussed this during the course of some of these conversations, the question was not raised in the context of the drop in visitor numbers or revenues.

 

"As a business we are under no illusion about how hard we will need to work to restore the trust and confidence of our guests in the safety of our operations and I wanted the families to be in no doubt as to how seriously we take safety, and our determination so to do.

 

"Since the terrible incident on June 2 we have done all we can to support those so badly affected by it, and their families.

 

"I genuinely thought that the right thing to do was to meet with each of them individually to explain our main findings and to answer their questions directly.

 

"In all my conversations I expressed our sincere apology and acceptance of responsibility for what happened.

 

"I am deeply sorry if anything we discussed caused distress or offence."

 

 

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I absolutely stressed that we took responsibility because our safety processes and protocols failed to prevent it.

 

Being from America this kind of personal accountability is almost impossible to fathom but it's a breath of fresh air. While the investigation did find them 100% at fault it's nice to see them being so open and honest about this.

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"The press had already reported that it was our aspiration that at some point in the future the ride would re-open.

 

"I said that this would only happen after all the necessary safety checks had been made, and following consultation with the HSE.

 

Now this part seems pretty crucial to me for anyone who thinks that ride will reopen this week or this season. If the investigation is still on going with the HSE and they are consulting with them with regards to procedures and safe guards they should put in place, the ride shouldn't re open until both the investigation and consultation is complete right? I may be wrong in thinking that but until the investigation is complete you wouldn't re open the ride would you? Also until I see that they have reinstalled the ride information signs at the entrance and staff have been seen training again I just can't see the ride re opening this season, especially considering there is only 1 month of the season left. I know the ride has been testing recently but I personally still don't see it opening this year, but if I'm proved wrong I have no issues with that.

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I may be wrong in thinking that but until the investigation is complete you wouldn't re open the ride would you?

 

From the HSE statement on 5 June:

The investigation into the incident continues and HSE inspectors remain on site. They have served a Prohibition notice on the rollercoaster stopping its use until action is taken to deal with the cause of the failure.

 

Sounds to me like it won't be allowed to open it until the HSE investigation is complete, and I would imagine they have proven to the HSE that they have made changes to ensure it wont happen again.

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They lift the notices when the problem that caused them has been fixed, if that makes sense?

 

So if someone banged their head (silly example, but you get the point) the notice would be lifted once you had proven people couldn't bang their head there again, regardless of the status of the investigation.

 

Don't forget the HSE still has, I think, the crashed cars in their warehouse for inspection etc.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
I absolutely stressed that we took responsibility because our safety processes and protocols failed to prevent it.

 

Being from America this kind of personal accountability is almost impossible to fathom but it's a breath of fresh air. While the investigation did find them 100% at fault it's nice to see them being so open and honest about this.

 

Agreed, the Texas Giant accident a few years back took place in my backyard. No accountability and nothing but idiot people looking for their 15 seconds of fame willing to trash the place and the coaster. Glad everything turned out okay (except the victim of course) but it would be nice if more accountability stood up for accidents happen.

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On a lighter note...

 

Scarefest at Alton Towers this year is the best it's been for quite a while in my opinion. They are back up to having 3 mazes (although they are all chargeable now, the days of a free maze included in admission are long gone), and the scare zones are better than before. Mini review below containing some mild spoilers.

 

Starting with the scare zones, Nox Infurnus (in the Rita Tunnel) & Dark Apocalypse (Between Nemesis & Sub-Terra). In the past Towers have put on fairly elaborate scare zones with lots of themeing, which were completely separate from regular guest areas. The problem with these were (in my opinion), they never really had that much of an atmosphere, and as they controlled the flow of guests going through them, you could always see the actors coming and it never really produced that many scares. Now the two scare zones are in relatively high traffic areas, removing most of the choice of whether to go through them or not. It is possible to avoid them, but it does mean taking a bit of a detour. The result of this change is a great atmosphere as the actors have free reign to chase people about and pull off quite a lot of scares as lots of people walk through the area. The only downside is, there is little or no themeing present, but that is a trade off that I think works.

 

The 3 mazes are Terror of the Towers (the only returning maze), Sub Species - The End Games & The Haunting of Molly Crowe.

 

Terror of the Towers has been shifted within The Towers this year, and now partially occupies an area the was previously used for The Sanctuary maze for the past two years. The theme is still the same, but the new route and mixed up scenes have given this maze a new lease of life, as it was getting stale in it's old guise.

 

Sub Species is a new maze free flow maze (you are free to explore and don't go through in a line), which sees you on the run in the sewers while a bunch of subterranean inhabitants bet on who will survive. This is a great maze, as straight away some of the group are snatched from the group and sent off on their own. There's multiple routes and you find yourself split off from the group fairly often. It's also quite varied with sections in complete darkness, tunnels to crawl through and some great themeing throughout.

 

The final maze The Haunting of Molly Crowe is a hooded maze, so for the majority of the experience you walk through with a hood over your head guided by a rope. Having done another hooded maze the night before at Xtreme Scream Park, which was a bit lacklustre, I was expecting this to be a bit of a let down, but in the end it was my favourite maze of the night. This is obviously a very sensory based experience, as the hoods block out almost everything visually, with just the odd thing being visable every so often. The theme of the maze is a group of mediums are investigating the ghost of Molly Crowe, when you go through the maze, you basically go through the life of Molly Crowe, which turns out to be fairly tragic tale, as you hear the screams of a baby, through to a abusive childhood and then death, which is simulated really well through what is really the first visble light effects and heat in the maze. Then after the death you get to the scary side, with glances of a demonic Molly. The finale which you remove your hood for, is by far the best set piece I've seen in a scare maze, and pulled off to great effect. It's a really great experience from start to finish and excels in story telling.

 

If you have the chance to get to Scarefest, it's definitely worth it this year.

 

Here's a few photos from the event, if you want to see more and some further reviews of the event, take a look at the coverage we did at live.towersnerd.com

 

Towers Street Themeing

 

Molly Crowe Poster

 

Alton Ancestors Flash Mob

 

Nox Infurnus Scare Zone

 

Terror of the Towers

 

Terror of the Towers Queue

 

Sub Species - The End Games

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  • 3 weeks later...

Nice report. I loved how the three mazes were so different to each other, therefore it was hard for me to pick a favourite. The final scene on Molly Crowe is honestly just about the best scene I have ever seen on a maze and that includes Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. I enjoyed Nox Infernus a lot even though one of the scare actors actually knocked me over by accident! Terror of the Towers was really elaborate, have always loved that one

 

I did think the mazes were a bit on the pricey side, but having said that they were very well done. I wish there was a chance to go back and get another discounted ticket as I did want to do the mazes again but didn't want to pay another £20 for the privilege.

 

The scare zones were really disappointing for me. They were just far too small. The actors were really good though and I did genuinely jump a couple of times (normally when I was distracted by an actor on one side, and then pounced upon by someone on the other side).

 

I loved riding the coasters at night as there's not many chances to do this at Alton Towers

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^Thats makes sense I guess, if the cause has been determined (human error) but then the effects (state of the cars) might still be being investigated? That sort of thing?

I appoligize if this has been answered already, but is there any more info as to the "cause" of the accident? I know the accident was deemed to be caused by "human error", but even if someone had sent a train at the wrong time, shouldn't the blocks have stopped the second train and prevented the accident in the first place?

 

Also, I'm wondering how Gherstlaur is taking all this? Two pretty serious accidents at parks in the past few years have involved their their rides/products. Obviously their rides are safe enough; my home park just bought a Gherstlaur flat ride for next season. However, I wonder if we'll be seeing less rides from them popping up in years to come. To be honest, I'm a little warry of riding the new flat next year after knowing some of the stuff that went on in 2013 & 15. It probably won't stop me from riding it, but it'll definetly be a little unnerving the first few goes, kind of like when the Intamin towers re opened after the superman accident

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Also, I'm wondering how Gherstlaur is taking all this? Two pretty serious accidents at parks in the past few years have involved their their rides/products. Obviously their rides are safe enough; my home park just bought a Gherstlaur flat ride for next season. However, I wonder if we'll be seeing less rides from them popping up in years to come. To be honest, I'm a little warry of riding the new flat next year after knowing some of the stuff that went on in 2013 & 15. It probably won't stop me from riding it, but it'll definetly be a little unnerving the first few goes, kind of like when the Intamin towers re opened after the superman accident

 

If you have serious reservations and worries you probably also shouldn't ride a bike, motorcycle, get in a car, ride a train, take a boat or fly in a plane. You probably shouldn't even leave your house. Traveling to an amusement is much more dangerous than visiting one.

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I think its good that all the commotion about the accident has died down now. Come next season when they try to re open the ride as they have me clear is their intention to I'm sure it will all come back to the media and go crazy again. The park is now closed for the season and I'm sure many changes will happen across the park including the new Food Loop restaurant and whatever else they are doing to Air so we have something to look forward too.

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I think its good that all the commotion about the accident has died down now. Come next season when they try to re open the ride as they have me clear is their intention to I'm sure it will all come back to the media and go crazy again. The park is now closed for the season and I'm sure many changes will happen across the park including the new Food Loop restaurant and whatever else they are doing to Air so we have something to look forward too.

I must've missed a memo, what are they doing with Air?

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