Tuesday 12 December 2017

Alton Towers crash victim: 'Having my leg amputated was a relief'

BBC handout photo of Victoria Balch (centre) appearing the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC News, where she spoke of her determination to walk again before she graduates after she lot her leg in the Alton Towers rollercoaster crash. Photo: PA
BBC handout photo of Victoria Balch (centre) appearing the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC News, where she spoke of her determination to walk again before she graduates after she lot her leg in the Alton Towers rollercoaster crash. Photo: PA
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

AN ENGLISH woman who lost her leg after the Alton Towers rollercoaster crash has spoken of having to learn to walk again and her determination to do so independently.

University student Victoria Balch, 20, was forced to have her right leg amputated above the knee after the horrific smash on the theme park's Smiler ride in June.

She told the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme that the amputation was "a relief" after six rounds of surgery in a bid to save her leg.

Miss Balch, from Leyland in Lancashire, was one of five people seriously injured.

She had been sitting in the front of the ride alongside Leah Washington, Joe Pugh and Daniel Thorpe, when it hit an empty carriage.

In an emotional interview she told the programme that she had queued for 30 minutes before getting on the ride but had "a really bad feeling" when she saw the empty carriage ahead of her before crashing.

In her first interview, as she wiped away tears, she said: "I remember it going into my knees and it hurt. The pain was indescribable. It hurt so much, as I'm talking about it I can still feel how it did as it crashed into my legs."

She added that she lost consciousness as the carriage rammed back and forth.

"I couldn't tell you how many times it impacted on it because I fainted."

She said that as she looked down at her leg she saw "blood pouring out" of her knee and thought she was going to die.

"I didn't want to look at my legs. I never thought I would be able to walk again. I could see it (blood) dripping the entire time. I didn't think I would make it. I didn't think I could cope with the pain for as long as I did."

She told the programme that she had been left at a 45 degree angle in the carriage and had to wait four hours before getting down as a platform was built.

Victoria Derbyshire told the show how doctors had described it "like playing Jenga but with human bodies".

The University of Derby student has been recovering at the Specialist Mobility Rehabilitation Centre in Preston and learning to walk again.

She told the BBC programme that her leg had become a burden following an infection describing it as "looking like a piece of meat from the butchers".

"After the third operation it was looking good - I thought I might be able to walk again.

"But the bad news came before my seventh operation, by which time I was exhausted. I had spent so much time asleep."

She added: "The leg was so painful that I couldn't do anything with it."

Following the amputation she told the programme: "I looked down, I looked at my leg, it was a relief. It was a relief not to have it there."

Formally in a wheelchair, she has now progressed onto crutches and has recently been provided with her own prosthetic leg.

She said that she has since deferred from university for one year and still thinks about the accident.

"I think about it quite often and I talk about it quite a lot but I wouldn't say I have rationalised it because I still can't believe it happened."

She added that she had received weekly visits from Alton Towers staff following the crash and said they were "doing everything they can for the families".

"It's not their fault personally - they're normal people that have families," she said.

Merlin Entertainment said the injured parties are to receive compensation.

Press Association

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