Alton Towers Survivor: “The crash made me grab hold of life”

Leah Washington has plans – lots of them - from mountain climbing to tackling a 10-mile obstacle course. But just a year ago, Leah believed she'd never be able to walk again.

Leah Washington

by Francine Anker |
Published on

Leah Washington, 18, and her boyfriend Joe Pugh, 19, both from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, were caught up in the horrendous crash on the £18m Smiler theme park ride at Alton Towers on 2 June last year.

The crash, caused by human error, happened when the rollercoaster, carrying 16 passengers, collided with an empty one at around 50 mph.

Leah and Joe, who’d only been dating for six weeks at the time, were crushed between the two carts and trapped for four hours before being cut free.

Leah needed resuscitation at the scene and a blood transfusion before being airlifted to hospital, where her left leg was amputated.

Joe, a textiles student, also suffered broken knees and his left hand was severely damaged.

Brave Leah, who is waiting to receive compensation for the accident, is moving forward with her life and even taking on new challenges.

She says: “There have been some dark times when I’ve struggled with losing my independence. But with physiotherapy and perseverance I’m getting there.

“I’ve got a new flesh-coloured cover for my prosthetic-leg which has given me much more confidence and I’m driving an automatic car.

“I’m fitter and more adventurous than before the crash. I’m planning to climb Mount Snowden with Joe in the next year and enter a Tough Mudder race (a 10-12 mile mud and obstacle course), which is something I’d never have thought of doing before I was injured and now I go to the gym twice a week.

"The accident has made me realise I need to grab hold of life.”

Read the rest of this story in Closer mag, out today.

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