Report suggests operator responsible for Smiler roller coaster accident was fired

Posted Monday, November 30, 2015 9:26 AM | Contributed by LostKause

An internal investigation by theme park operator Merlin Entertainments concluded the accident on the Smiler at Alton Towers was caused by "human error." And according to the Sunday People, the employee - believed to be a woman in her late teens to early 20's - was allowed to remain working at the company while the investigation was underway but has now been dismissed.

Read more from The Independent.

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Monday, November 30, 2015 9:44 AM

"Handyman 1 has been sacked"

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Monday, November 30, 2015 10:35 AM

I hope they didn't just pick her up and drop her in the pond.

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Monday, November 30, 2015 11:27 AM

Whoever made the call to send that loaded train off the lift deserves to no longer be employed by the park, no question. But I still can't imagine the sleepless nights and forever changed life that person will have for the rest of their life, and my heart goes out to anyone in that position.

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Monday, November 30, 2015 11:58 AM

In my eyes the bigger question was why a teenager was put in a position to make that decision in the first place.

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Monday, November 30, 2015 12:34 PM

Agreed. Whenever I worked for a park and we had any type of shutdown or ride stop, the ride ops and even attraction trained management would immediately relinquish all control positions to maintenance. Whether we had an evacuation or were able to ride start again with passengers and get them back to the station, we never regained control of the attraction until all vehicles were accounted for and cleared of guests.

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Monday, November 30, 2015 5:47 PM

I just want to point out that a maintenance person could make the same tragic error, so having maintenance take over the controls is not a fool proof preventative measure to prevent an accident from occurring. The best preventative is exhaustive training of those who operate the equipment. The park you worked for could have trained you in the procedures to restart a ride after a shutdown or stop. They just chose not to.

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Monday, November 30, 2015 6:08 PM

Sometimes "human error" is exactly what it implies - human error.

No amount of training, procedure, experience, motivation, fancy title, or whatnot is going to eliminate the odd mistake. Sometimes **** happens and sometimes people screw up.

It doesn't make it any less tragic or give it legitimacy or closure, but it's the reality of things.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015 1:00 PM

My first thought when I heard about this was that it could have happened to me when I was an operator. I hope all parks take this example and include it in their training material.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 12:37 AM

I Agree 100% with Gonch (He'd probably prefer if I just stop right here..) on this one.

It's unfortunate, but accidents do happen from human error. Engineers can ease the manual workload, automation can make our jobs easier, but in the end, a human has final say in the operation of the machine. And it needs to be that way.

It's kind of a catch 22 if you ask me. No one can argue that people drive like idiots, but do you really want to trust a driverless Google grid? Human error is responsible for a high percentage of plane crashes, but would you rather get on a pilotless plane? A human mistakenly overrode the Smiler's safety lockouts, but would you prefer to remove human decision making in the future? Sure, people get tired, frustrated, and less than 8 hours of sleep, and computers don't. But someone capable of rational thinking has to be present to monitor the automation. In the case of the Smiler, the automation did its job perfectly, the human overseer did not. But as with most modern machinery, improvements are always being made.

It's also a sad reality that a lot of these improvements are "written in blood," as will be the case here.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 7:16 AM

BrettV said:
Whoever made the call to send that loaded train off the lift deserves to no longer be employed by the park, no question. But I still can't imagine the sleepless nights and forever changed life that person will have for the rest of their life, and my heart goes out to anyone in that position.

Was thinking the same thing. I've been asking why they didn't count the carriages or have someone take a look at the track before overriding the system or something of that nature, and this person probably asks herself the same thing every day. The media still posts pictures of the one girl's leg before amputation, there have been many interviews and pictures of all four people, especially the three that had life changing injuries, and there's not many people who wouldn't feel tremendous guilt and agony as a result of a mistake they made.

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