Oakwood Charged Over Ride Death

Theme park death

26.02.2008

The owner of a West Wales theme park is set to appear in court over the death of a 16-year-old girl nearly four years ago.

Sunday school teacher Hayley Williams fell from the top of the Hydro ride at Oakwood Theme Park in Pembrokeshire as it began its descent into a pool of water at the foot of the attraction.

The teenager, from Pontypool, South Wales, died of internal injuries following the incident on April 15, 2004.

At an inquest in May 2006, Pembrokeshire coroner Michael Howells ruled out unlawful killing as a possible verdict, concluding that the evidence did not support a view that death had been as a result of gross negligence.

The Crown Prosecution Service also ruled out the possibility of criminal charges in January 2006.

But owners Oakwood Leisure are now to due appear at Haverfordwest Magistrates' Court on April 10 after the Health and Safety Executive served a summons for an alleged breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The company is charged with failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that persons were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

A spokesman for Oakwood Leisure declined to comment.

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David Urpeth, a Partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "Operators of rides have a legal obligation to ensure that they are constructed and maintained such that members of the public remain safe whilst riding them. This tragic case demonstrates the terrible consequences that follow when things go wrong.

"I represent many members of the public who have been injured or killed in circumstances where they could and should have been safe."