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Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 16:06 GMT
Boy's rollercoaster death 'accidental'
Space Invader
The Space Invader ride is a covered rollercoaster
An inquest has heard how a boy fell from a rollercoaster at Blackpool's Pleasure Beach and was killed when he was struck by an oncoming carriage.

A verdict of accidental death has been returned on Christopher Sherratt, 11, who suffered multiple injuries when he fell from from the Space Invader ride.

No prosecution will be brought against the Pleasure Beach, although Health and Safety Executive officials believe that the strap holding him in was not restraining him properly.

Chrstopher Sharratt
Chrstopher Sharratt was hit by a carriage

Alan Jackson, a representative from the Health and Safety Executive said: "If he had remained correctly seated, there was little or no risk of him coming out of that ride under normal operational conditions."

After managing to slip out of the car on 21 July 2000, the boy struck his head against a stanchion and ended up hanging from another car.

The second car contained a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old.

The jury at Blackpool Coroner's Court heard how the schoolboy would have to have been reaching out of the car for the gravitational pull to take him over the edge and on to the track.

Mrs Sherratt's singular hope is that the circumstances of this accident have led to improvements in safety

David Aird, solicitor

Mr Jackson said: "On hitting his head on the stanchion, it would have decelerated his head, but the rest of his body would want to keep going, so he effectively cart-wheeled down the track where he was hit by the next car."

Christopher had spent the day with two friends at the Pleasure Beach, going on rides including The Big One and The Maze.

On the Space Invader, a ride partly submerged by darkness, the three boys had been strapped in by what was described in court as an ordinary car seat belt.

'Not there'

It was when the youngsters got halfway round the track that the incident occurred.

Christopher, the back seat passenger, was seen by his 15-year-old friend falling over the edge.

Barry McKenna told the court how he had turned around from his position in the middle of the car to see Christopher's body falling over the edge.

He said: "He was coming out of the car. I saw his white t-shirt going over the edge.

"I put my hand back onto Christopher's seat and the seat belt was still fastened, but Christopher was not there."

The two boys still in the car alerted staff at the theme park when their ride came to an end, telling them that their friend had gone "missing".

Emergency lighting

The ride was stopped and emergency lighting switched on to locate Christopher, but he was dead by the time paramedics arrived.

His mother Denise Sharratt was in court to hear the evidence.

Her solicitor David Aird said: "Whilst obviously nothing can be done to turn back the passage of time, Mrs Sherratt's singular hope is that the circumstances of this accident have led to improvements in safety which will ensure that she and other patients never have to experience an event similar to this.

A spokesperson for Blackpool Pleasure Beach told BBC News Online that while suggestions from the Health and Safety Executive would not be dismissed, there were no plans for the seat belts to be changed.

The spokesperson said: "It is not appropriate to comment as the findings have already been declared."

Click here to go to BBC Lancashire Online
See also:

22 Jul 00 | UK
Fairground death boy named
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