News in the amusement industry for the last week has been unfortunately dominated by the tragic events that occurred at Alton Towers on the Smiler roller-coaster on June 2. As the days have progressed, it has become clear that the Smiler accident, in which a loaded train collided with an empty train on the track, was extremely serious, resulting in severe injuries to three guests, one of whom, seventeen year old Leah Washington, had to have her left leg amputated above the knee.
For several days now, I’ve read the media coverage of this event and have purposefully decided not to write about it. Why? Because anything I might say about the accident itself would be pure speculation, something I strive to avoid. But today, something about this case caught my eye that I could not ignore. Today, according to media reports in the UK, the owner of Alton Towers, Merlin Entertainment, did something that most American operators (and their lawyers) would scarcely consider: it took full responsibility for the injuries to its guests and promised to compensate each one. I think, given the circumstances, that this was exactly the right move and one to which other operators should pay close attention.