Alton Towers Smiler crash victims Leah Washington and Joe Pugh marry nine years later

A couple who were seriously injured in a horror rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers almost a decade ago have finally tied the knot.

Leah Washington married Joe Pugh in a beautiful ceremony in Yorkshire surrounded by friends and family.

Their wedding took place at the Woodlands Hotel in Leeds, as Ms Washington dazzled in a white dress with a bejewelled corset and a bouquet of white roses, while her husband wore a black tuxedo.

When they were aged just 17 and 18, the couple were on a first date in June 2015 when The Smiler rollercoaster crashed at the Staffordshire theme park.

Their carriage smashed into a second stationary car at 50mph, leaving them with life-changing injuries.

Ms Washington lost a leg while Mr Pugh smashed both kneecaps and lost the ability to move one of his fingers.

The rescue operation was described by one doctor as “playing Jenga with human beings”.

The passengers were trapped at an angle 100ft in the air above a 20ft-deep concrete pit designed to support the roller-coaster’s structure, as they waited for the emergency services to free them from the wreckage.

The medics who saved her life said a series of emergency blood transfusions kept her conscious despite the loss of nearly a quarter of her blood.

Describing what happened at the time, Ms Washington said: “I saw the empty carriage and put my hands out to try to stop, but we crashed. I heard people screaming and people below us started running to the fence. I looked at Joe and his finger was hanging off, and Daniel [Thorpe, another passenger] had a big cut on his forehead.

“Then I started to lose feeling in my legs. My left leg was all pushed up and the bar was digging in. There was a bit of flesh on the seat in front and I could feel the bone in my knee. I started to panic. I was petrified.”

Alton Towers operator Merlin Attractions was fined £5 million in 2016 after admitting health and safety breaches following the crash.

A total of 16 people were injured in the crash, with two people requiring leg amputations. The incident was found to be down to human error, and Ms Washington is receiving payments to help cover her costs.

She now has a prosthetic leg worth £60,000 which will have to be replaced every few years, amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The 26-year-old told The Mirror the couple had “drifted apart” for a while following the crash, but they found their way back to each other and became engaged in 2022 in Italy.

Last year, Ms Washington reflected on the time that has passed since the crash.

Sharing a video on Instagram, she wrote: “Eight years since my life flipped, how time has flown! A brief little journey from then until now, a 17-year-old girl thinking what was going to happen next, underconfident after surgery and struggling to think positive.”

“I feel the best I have felt in a long time,” she added.

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