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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 April, 2004, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Makers to inspect fall-death ride
Hayley Williams
Hayley Williams had recently celebrated her 16th birthday

The manufacturers of a white-knuckle ride at a west Wales theme park where a girl died on Thursday are due to inspect it over the weekend.

Hayley Williams, 16, fell 100ft from the Hydro water ride at Oakwood leisure park in west Wales.

Engineers from the Swiss-based company Intamin AG will assist the ongoing investigation into Hayley's death.

It has emerged that a woman in the US died falling from an almost identical ride in 2001 made by Intamin.

The California-based ride had to be modified after the fatal accident three years ago, similar to the one at Oakwood.

The state authorities there found that the restraints were inadequate.

Their investigation did find that the woman's weight was a contributory factor

Mother-of-five Lori Mason Larez, 40, who weighed 20 stone, slipped from both a seatbelt and a lap bar and fell 115ft from the Perilous Plunge ride.

The attraction at Knotts Berry Farm was closed for eight months while the restraint system was modified.

Ambulances were called to the Hydro ride in west Wales - described by Oakwood as "Europe's fastest and wettest water coaster" - at 1546 BST on Thursday when Hayley fell.

Hydro water ride
The Hydro attraction was opened in June 2002
Shortly afterwards, she was flown by air ambulance to Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest.

Within hours it was confirmed that she had died.

The teenager - a talented musician a pupil at St Alban's RC High School - had been with her mother Beverley and younger sister Hannah, 13, on holiday at the family's caravan in Pembrokeshire.

Eyewitness, 14-year-old Lucy Strachan who was waiting to get on the ride, said: "We saw something yellow fall and the boy in the queue next to me screamed.

"A man came running through the queue, but no one knew what had happened at that stage.

"They closed the ride and ambulances came in and did CPR for a long time. When I heard that she'd died, I felt awful."

Martin Rothwell, 10, who was also hurt on the ride, was discharged from hospital on Thursday night after being treated for slight head injuries.

Martin Rothwell and mother Sian
Martin thinks he may have been struck by Hayley as she fell
He thinks Hayley may have hit him with her foot or shoe as she fell.

Oakwood owner Paddy McNamara flew in from abroad following the tragedy, which he called "devastating".

He told reporters on Friday: "As you are well aware there is a joint investigation currently taking place between the police and the Health and Safety Executive.

"We are obviously co-operating fully with both authorities as we have always done during our history.

"I know it is no consolation to Hayley's family or friends at all but we have been open for 17 years and have had 5.5 million visitors relating to 70 million rides with no major incident before yesterday. It's a very sad day for us.".

The Hydro ride - standing 121ft tall just 34ft shorter than Niagara Falls - consists of a 24-seater boat which drops down a near-vertical chute into a plunge pool at 50 miles an hour.

Dyfed-Powys Police are appealing for any witnesses or anyone with photographs or video footage of the accident to contact them at an incident room which has been set up.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Pembroke Dock Police Station on 01646 682121.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Rhun ap Iorwerth
"It is one of the world's fastest water rides"



SEE ALSO:
Tributes to 'talented' Hayley
16 Apr 04  |  Wales


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