Teen sisters reveal ‘Final Destination’ moment after they were pushed in front of for Alton Towers crash car at last minute
Two teenage sisters have revealed that they would have been on the Alton Towers rollercoaster crash – but someone pushed in front of them in the queue as they went to climb aboard.
Tiff Owen and her sister Jess had queued for The Smiler yesterday but as they put their bags to one side a pair went in front of them.
Tiff, 18, also revealed that her 17-year-old sister had realised there was an error when the final test carriage didn’t come back.
Moments later they heard a huge ‘bang’ as those in front hit the stranded test carriage, which left four teenagers seriously injured – one believed to have lost their leg.
Tiff, from Wolverhampton, West Midlands, said: “It was horrendous, the bang was huge and seeing people stuck in their seats hanging half upside down 25 feet in the air was awful.
“It is absolutely terrifying to think that would have been us had the people not gone in front of us.
“We feel very lucky to have not been on that first carriage, it was like someone was looking out for us that day.
“We just feel so sorry for those involved in the accident, it was horrible seeing them hanging in the air for so long, they were all screaming, it will stay with me.”
The apprentice hairdresser had gone to Alton Towers with her sister to enjoy a day off from work and had begun queuing to ride The Smiler about midday.
When they reached the front about an hour and a half later, they were about to climb aboard when they realised they needed to stow their bags for safety.
As they did this, a pair went in front of them and took their places in the ill-fated carriage.
However before they could set off, the ride broke down.
Tiff said: “The ride had clearly broken and there were lots of technicians rushing round, messing with the controls, trying to get it running again.
“There was a service announcement saying they were experiencing ‘technical difficulties’ and they kept sending test cars round.
“Then they told it was all sorted and it was fine. I heard people asking about it and they said it was safe, so people got back on.
“But Jess turned to me and said ‘one of the cars hasn’t come back, it’s not safe, why hasn’t the last car they sent come back?’.
“As we were talking we suddenly heard the huge bang and we knew something terrible had happened.
“I had a thousand thoughts running through my mind – what if it had been us? Had the track collapsed? Had it hit something? Would people be dead?”
The ride was immediately closed and the two girls were given fast track tickets so that they could get on other rides quickly in the theme park.
But as the pair were leaving the ride they saw large crowds gathering around in front of the stranded Smiler ride.
Tiff said: “Everyone was screaming, some people were in tears as they obviously knew people stuck on the ride.
“The people hanging at a 45 degree angle were all screaming and you could see that some people had been injured – but it was too horrible to look.
“The four air ambulances came quite quickly but it was still a terrifying five or ten minutes of chaos before they arrived, with people not knowing what was going on or how they could be helped where they were.
“If it had been me on that ride I would have been so scared, I have no idea how I would have coped. I can’t begin to think how they must have felt hanging there for so many hours – I doubt any of them will ever set foot in a theme park ever again.”
Tiff says other areas of the park remained open for a period after the incident, even though the X Sector, which houses Oblivion and The Smiler, was quickly closed.
Before the news spread around the park about how serious the crash was, the girls passed numerous people saying they still wanted to ride The Smiler.
However the sisters felt sickened from what they had seen and no longer wanted to use their fast track tickets so they went home.
It was Tiff’s third time at Alton Towers, and the incident has not put her off going again.
Tiff said: “It is obviously very scary and I would have to think hard about going on a big ride again but since accidents are so rare I think I would go to Alton Towers again.
“I think I’d avoid The Smiler from here on though.”
A 27-year-old man, 18-year-old male and two female passengers aged 17 and 19, were all seriously injured in the crash. Sixteen people were treated in total following the incident.