An update from the Gazette's website including a video interview with one of the rescue teams:http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/black ... 5545164.jp
Dozens hurt as ride crashes
12 August 2009
By Helen Steel
DOZENS of people have been injured in a horror crash at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Two cars on the Big Dipper crashed into each other – 20ft in the air – just before 8pm last night and more than 30 people had to be lifted to safety by specialist firefighter teams.
Paramedics took 21 people to Blackpool Victoria Hospital – three with serious injuries, including a teenage boy.
Firefighters used stretchers, spine boards and neck collars to rescue the 32 people from the ride.
They had received a call from a member of the public on nearby Burlington Road, who had heard a huge crash from the Pleasure Beach.
Paramedics were already at the scene.
Specialist rope crews were called in to evacuate people trapped on the famous rollercoaster.
Pleasure Beach staff had already managed to rescue 11 people from the stricken ride.
Injuries suffered by those involved in the crash ranged from broken bones to, cuts, bruises whiplash and back and neck strains.
Police guarded the park and the Promenade was closed for more than an hour during the aftermath of the crash.
Some of the walking wounded were moved to the Ocean Boulevard branch of Burger King and treated there.
The Big Dipper is closed following the incident.
Onlookers told of their shock as they heard young boys screaming for help after the two cars collided on the famous rollercoaster.
Stephen Jones, who had travelled to the park from Willenhall in the West Midlands, with his wife Karen, said: "We were about to leave when we heard a huge smash and a young boy screaming from the back, "get me out of here!"
"We didn't know what to do, we couldn't help as they were so high up, but within minutes the ambulance was there, as well as fire crews.
"There was a massive crowd and we soon realised how serious it was after people were taken down on stretchers.
"It was shocking witnessing it all."
And Matt Hazard, a 25 year-old teacher from Henbury, Bristol, who was visiting the Pleasure Beach with his brother Ryan, 26, told of the shock and confusion after the accident.
He said: "We were in the queue for a ride nearby when we heard a huge commotion and screaming.
"We looked behind and there were people screaming, we thought people could have died.
"Everything was a blur, but the fire and ambulance service were there in minutes, and they were fantastic, as were Pleasure Beach staff.
"We were asked to leave by an emergency exit, and security guards came and blocked the entrances, with police cars surrounding the park.
"It was surreal, but I'm so glad it wasn't worse and nobody was killed."
It is believed the front carriage stopped suddenly before being hit by the second train, which then rolled backwards.
South Shore fire station manager, Mark Alderson, said: "There was obviously great concern when we arrived as some people had family members up on the ride.
"When crews got there, both cars remained on the tracks but were stationary, approximately 20ft high.
"There was no-one in the second car and 11 people had been safely evacuated by site staff before we arrived. There were 21 people of different ages in the front car.
"Many were extremely upset and distressed."
Mr Alderson said: "Our crews were able to safely escort most people off the ride by guiding them down the tracks, providing physical support and reassurance that we would get them safely down."
The casualties were assessed at the Pleasure Beach by ambulance crews and 21 people were taken to hospital.
A police spokesman said: "We retained a presence there and closed off the roads until 9.15pm."
The Health and Safety Executive has now launched an investigation into the crash.
There have been no serious accidents on the Big Dipper, which was originally built in 1923, and reaches speeds of 60 mph and heights of 60ft.
A spokesman for Pleasure Beach Blackpool said: "Investigations are under way to establish the cause of an incident which occurred on the Big Dipper.
"Emergency services attended the incident. There were 32 riders in total. The emergency services treated 13 passengers at the scene.
"Pleasure Beach, Blackpool is cooperating fully with the emergency services and the Health and Safety Executive."
Christopher Sherratt, 11, died after falling from the Space Invader ride in July 2000.
Weeks after the youngster was killed 14 people were injured during a collision on The Big One.
The Big Dipper was first built in 1923 by John Miller.
In 1936, Charlie Paige and Joe Emberton extended the ride, adding arches over the south entrance of the park and additional drops.