A Chester witness has spoken of the moment terrified rollercoaster riders were left trapped around 100 feet in the air after an attraction that promises to ‘mess with your body and mind’ got stuck.
The Smiler ride at Alton Towers in Staffordshire ground to a halt at the top of a near vertical section leaving more than a dozen people stranded.
One witness, from Chester, who did not wish to be named, said: “I looked up to see a carriage with about 12 people on board stuck on the top peak of the ride, hanging backwards slightly.
“I could even see the girls' hair in the back of the carriage hanging back over the back edge. It looked terrifying.
“There were people screaming. It must have been a terrifying ordeal for the passengers in the carriage. They must have been on that peak for at least 20 minutes.
“There was an announcement saying ‘there are technical difficulties, and it will be back and running shortly, thank you for your patience’ then suddenly there was a screech and the carriage began to slowly reverse back down the vertical section of track.”
The Smiler features spinning, hypnotic wheels, flashing lights and giant syringes to ramp up the fear factor.
When it opened, the £18m ride broke a Guinness World Record for the most loops - 14 - over its 1,170 metre length.
But on its launch night last May it stalled after a couple of runs, leaving stars including rapper Tinchy Strider and TOWIE star Jessica Wright disappointed.
Tynchy, who was due to go on just before it developed a fault, said at the time: “I'm hugely disappointed I never got to go on it. It's called The Smiler and I was sitting there thinking what is there to smile about?”
An Alton Towers spokeswoman said the problem had been caused by a delay at the ‘train station’ where passengers get on and off. This automatically triggered a failsafe which stopped carriages along the track.
She said: “There was delay in the station so the computer system told it to stop. We believe they were only up there for nine minutes but it probably seemed longer.
“We take health and safety extremely seriously and we make sure the passengers are informed and are safe and comfortable.”
The theme park only reopened on March 22 after a winter break.