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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 November 2006, 15:01 GMT
Firm guilty over park ride death
Gemma Savage
Gemma Savage died in hospital from head and neck injuries
A French manufacturer has been found guilty of breaching health and safety laws after the death of a student on a theme park ride in North Yorkshire.

Durham university student Gemma Savage, 20, from Wath on Dearne, died after two cars collided on the Treetop Twister ride at Lightwater Valley, in 2001.

Reverchon Industries SA was convicted of two charges of failing to ensure the ride's safe design and construction.

The company failed to answer the charge and will be sentenced on 8 December.

Reverchon, which made and supplied the ride, was also convicted of failing to give information necessary to ensure the ride was safe when open to the public.

At an earlier hearing, Lightwater Valley Attractions Ltd admitted failing to ensure the health and safety of riders.

Maintenance electrician Eric Butters admitted failing to ensure safety through his work.

We are pleased and relieved that the jury have found Reverchon guilty of their errors
Gemma's mother, Linda Savage

During the four-day trial at Leeds Crown Court, the jury was told a wiring fault, which should have been discovered during Reverchon's quality control testing process, meant the ride's control system was not safe.

Miss Savage was on the ride with her boyfriend, Joseph Shimmin, when it stopped automatically, as the car ahead of them failed to reach the top of a U-bend slope.

Emergency staff were called and electrician Mr Butters used the manual control panel.

But the jury were told the panel should not have worked because the emergency stop button had not been pressed.

The Treetop Twister ride
The Treetop Twister had been open for about a month

It released the couple's car, which accelerated down the U-bend and up the other side to hit the car in front, before rolling backwards again.

They collided with the car behind them with "maximum impact speed" at the bottom of the U-bend.

Miss Savage suffered head and neck injuries and died the next day.

Speaking outside the court, Gemma's mother Linda said they were satsified with the verdict.

"We are pleased and relieved that the jury have found Reverchon guilty of their errors and the part they have played in Gemma's death, but we are disappointed and angry that they have ignored these proceedings throughout," she said.

"We hope that the sentence for Reverchon, Eric Butters and Lightwater Valley reflects the seriousness of what has happened."

A report on the court case

Faulty wiring led to ride death
27 Nov 06 |  North Yorkshire

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