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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 March, 2005, 18:15 GMT
Re-opened death ride 'is safe'
Hydro water ride
Safety modifications include new seat belts and lap bars
The owner of a theme park has given his personal assurance of safety as he re-opened a rollercoaster from which a teenager fell to her death.

The Hydro ride at the Oakwood park in Pembrokeshire was shut immediately after Hayley Williams, 16, fell 100 feet in April 2004.

Her family are still waiting for an explanation as to why she died.

Oakwood Managing Director Paddy McNamara said there was no doubt the ride was "foolproof and fail safe".

Hayley Williams from Pontypool, had visited Oakwood, near Tenby in Pembrokeshire, with her mother and sister, who watched as she boarded the attraction described as "Europe's fastest and wettest water coaster".

Hayley Williams

Standing 121ft tall, the Hydro ride is just 34ft shorter than Niagara Falls. Its 24-seater boat drops down a near-vertical chute into a plunge pool at 50 miles an hour, creating a 45-foot wave.

It was as the ride was about to plummet from its highest point, onlookers saw Hayley fall out of the carriage.

Paramedics administered CPR for some time before she was flown to Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest but was confirmed dead shortly after.

Her death had been the first fatality at the tourist attraction which brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

A full police and Health and Safety Executive investigation got under way and the results are still awaited.

"We absolutely feel very deeply for the Williams family, and we will always live with the events of last year," said Mr McNamara. "But now we must move on".

Paramedics tend to Hayley Williams
Hayley was confirmed dead a few hours after she fell

At the time of last year's tragedy the single boat on Hydro was fitted with seat belts and lap bars for the 24 riders, said Mr McNamara.

"Now over the shoulder restraints for each rider have been fitted at a cost of 137,000. If any of the restraints are not properly secured, the boat will not start its journey."

He says those changes were the result of recommendations made by the Health and Safety Executive.

When asked how he would expect people to have any faith in the safety of the ride after what happened to Hayley, Mr McNamara said: "If there was the minutest doubt that there were any safety concerns with Hydro then we would not have been allowed to reopen it."

"There is no doubt that it is absolutely foolproof and fail safe".

Oakwood experienced a "significant drop" in visitor numbers following the tragedy and it what he described as " a very tough year".

An inquest into Hayley's death has been opened and adjourned until after the conclusion of the police inquiry.

"We're very glad that the park is opening again for the summer season and that Hydro is opening again and that we're getting back to normal.

"When Oakwood is hurting, it's not just us who are hurting. We employ 400 people and bring in millions to the local economy. We want to get back to that again".


SEE ALSO:
Fatal funfair ride to reopen
03 Feb 05 |  South West Wales
Tributes to 'talented' Hayley
16 Apr 04 |  Wales


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