Rollercoaster plunge boy in critical condition, say police

An air ambulance helicopter near Lightwater Valley
An air ambulance helicopter near Lightwater Valley
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A seven-year-old boy who fell from a rollercoaster is in a critical condition in hospital, police have said.

The youngster was taken to Leeds General Infirmary with head injuries following an incident at the Lightwater Valley theme park, near Ripon, North Yorkshire, on Thursday.

Lightwater Valley theme park in North Yorkshire

Lightwater Valley theme park in North Yorkshire

Witnesses said the boy plunged up to 15ft from the Twister ride at the attraction, with one saying they heard loud screams before seeing a child on the ground.

On Friday, North Yorkshire Police said in statement: "The boy was taken to Leeds General Infirmary with head injuries following the incident where he currently remains. However, his condition is now described as critical."

The force clarified that the boy, who has not been named, is seven years old and not six, as previously stated.

The boy's condition has deteriorated after officers said on Thursday that his injuries were not thought to be life threatening.

In a statement, Lightwater Valley said: "We have been informed by North Yorkshire Police that the medical condition of the child involved in the incident at the park yesterday has deteriorated overnight and he is now in a critical condition.

"We are devastated by this news and our thoughts are with the family.

"While the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation is continuing, we will support them and be guided by their advice."

Witnesses have described how the boy fell around 12-15 feet leaving his hysterical mother stuck in the car on the ride above.

Members of the public ran to his aid along with park staff before paramedics and an air ambulance arrived.

Mark Charnley, who was queuing for the Twister with his 10-year-old daughter while enjoying a half-term break, said he looked up to see the boy "hanging backwards outside of the actual carriage" before he plunged to the ground.

North Yorkshire Police said they were working with the Health and Safety Executive, which is leading the investigation into what happened on the ride, which is now closed.

The park bills itself as the "ultimate family adventure" on its website.The Twister is described as a "spinning rollercoaster" which "gives an awesome, fun-packed experience for all the family".

"The track is full of seriously tight turns, giving riders the impression that they might not make it around the next corner, with the threat of plummeting into the treetops being a constant source of tension for parents (and amusement for the kids)!" the LightwaterValley websites says.

Riders must be taller than 4ft 11in (1.5m) unaccompanied or more than 4ft (1.2m) if accompanied by an adult, it adds.

Durham University student Gemma Savage died when two cars collided on the park's Treetop Twister ride in 2001.

Paris-based Reverchon Industries SA, which manufactured and supplied the ride, was found guilty at Leeds Crown Court of two charges of failing to ensure its safe design and construction, and failing to give information necessary to ensure the ride was safe when open to the public.