Horrified Mum watched as screaming son rode rollercoaster without safety bar down
Richard Evans – Local Democracy Reporter
A mum has claimed she watched her terrified, screaming son ride a rollercoaster at a Welsh fun fair without the safety bar down.
Emma Underhill says she is unable to sleep after watching her boy James, 7, ride the Nessi rollercoaster at the Rhyl Family Fun Fair, at the Children’s Village.
Emma, 27, who lives in Greenfield, Flintshire, says she was horrified when she says she realised James wasn’t strapped in. The family had visited the park before, but this was the first time she let James on the rollercoaster
The theme park says it was treating the complaint “very seriously” and had launched an investigation which is ongoing.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirmed the matter had been passed on to their concerns team and North Wales Police said they attended the incident.
Emma was at the theme park on Saturday with her partner Daniel Badrock, 28, James and their other son George, 2.
She said: “It was Daniel’s birthday, so we thought we’d take the children out. James wanted to go on the Nessi rollercoaster on his own. He was very excited, thinking he was brave. Bless him.
“James sat on the rollercoaster waiting to go. We were watching when he screamed ‘I’m not strapped in’. My partner and I were literally screaming to the ride operator that James wasn’t strapped in, and he replied: ‘Yes, he is’,” Emma claimed.
“I watched petrified as the rollercoaster moved. The ride goes around twice, but the operator didn’t stop it until after the first lap, and it was then he noticed the safety bar wasn’t down on James.
“James had just been holding on to a handrail the whole way around with no safety bar. I ran up and got James off the ride. I was in a panic, and James was screaming the whole time around.
“Another child on the ride then got upset because James was screaming that he wasn’t strapped in,” Emma said.
Emma, who is expecting her third child in December claimed: “There are signs on the rollercoaster saying the safety bar will be put down immediately, but there was no safety-bar check. It’s not a slow rollercoaster – it has some speed to it.”
She added: “He’s lucky there were no physical injuries, but psychologically our anxiety has gone through the roof. The owner was there on the day, and his words were: ‘It hasn’t happened before,’ and I said that it didn’t matter; it had happened now, and I wanted to put an incident form in.
“I had to call North Wales Police, who made sure the incident was recorded correctly,” she said.
A Rhyl Family Fun Fair spokesperson said: “There was a complaint that was brought to our attention on Saturday, May 13 2023. Although there were no injuries sustained, we have launched an internal investigation which is currently ongoing.
“Due to this investigation we cannot comment further. The business, which was established over 30 years ago, has health and safety measures in place and includes safety checks, which follow the necessary guidelines.
“We take this complaint very seriously at this stage, and we have nothing more to add.”
The family are waiting for a call back from the doctor on how to manage James’ stress levels, Emma said. She has also reported the matter to Denbighshire County Council and the HSE.
She said: “James was shaking and petrified. He said, ‘Mummy, I thought I was going to fall out and die’.”
Emma added: “I can’t sleep. I’m getting upset talking about it. I can still see his face on that ride now. I had to watch him go around that whole track once, knowing he wasn’t strapped in. As a parent who has always kept my children safe, it was terrifying.”
She claimed that there was “no apology from the ride operator or the owner”.
“We are meant to be going to Thomas the Tank Engine Land in a couple of months. James has said he doesn’t want to go on a rollercoaster for the rest of his life.”
Emma said the incident had left them “angry and upset” and that they asked the owner on the day to close the ride or “at least get the ride operator off”.
A police spokeswoman said: “We were called shortly after 1 pm on Saturday, May 13 to report a dispute in the Children’s Village area of Rhyl. Officers attended the area to speak with those involved as well as staff members at the site.”
The council said fairground safety concerns were the responsibility of the HSE.
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