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Last Updated: Friday, 9 July, 2004, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
Open verdict on girl's ride death
Salma Saleem
Salma was alone in the carriage
The jury at the inquest of a girl who plunged to her death from a theme park ride have returned an open verdict.

Salma Saleem, 15, from Nelson, Lancs, suffered fatal head injuries in the fall from a Ferris wheel at Gulliver's World, Warrington, in 2002.

The inquest at Runcorn Town Hall had heard safety bars on the wheel's carriages had failed at least 10 times.

Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg demanded the theme park's workers should receive better training.

Following the verdict, Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg said: "I announce my intention to write to the managing director of Gulliver's World directing her attention to two matters.

Gulliver's World
Gulliver's World declined to comment

"The first matter is that I believe that it would be desirable that one person at board level should be appointed as responsible for health and safety issues relating to both park employees and visitors.

"Secondly, that those employees charged with health and safety responsibility should receive training and that a record of such training should be kept."

Speaking outside court, the Saleems' solicitor Andrew Kirkpatrick described the inquest as "harrowing" and made reference to Salma's mother's "daily guilt".

He said: "This has been a harrowing and traumatic three days for the Saleem family during which we have all heard some startling revelations about the practices of ride operatives at Gulliver's World.

"Salma's mother lives with the daily trauma of a mother whose child has died in front of her and the daily guilt that she allowed a ride attendant to split her from her child."

Gulliver's World declined to comment on the verdict.

The inquest had heard Salma, who had Down's Syndrome, had not been allowed to ride in the same carriage as her mother.

The theme park's director had told the inquest it was the job of carers, rather than ride attendants, to assess the suitability of rides for disabled people.

He also admitted his employees had not had any training in how to treat people with disabilities. There was no written log of accidents.

Broken English

Asked by Mr Kirkpatrick what information was given to the carers of disabled children, Mr Phillips said: "I would have expected an operator to ask the carer if they felt the ride was suitable for their dependant.

"If a carer comes to the ride they can see what the ride is and it is their decision if it is suitable for their dependant."

Salma's mother had wanted to ride with her daughter, the jury heard, but was only able to speak broken English.

She was told to sit in the carriage behind, making Salma go into a carriage on her own.

An eye witness told the inquest Salma had been "semi-standing" on the ride before falling.

A Heath and Safety Executive expert said it was unlikely she could stand unless the bar had not been closed properly.

An open verdict means there is insufficient evidence to deliver any other ruling, such as accidental death or unlawful killing.

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