The "Smiler" at the UK's Alton Towers theme park is billed as the world's first 14-loop roller coaster—but after a horrific accident yesterday, it isn't clear whether anybody will experience them again. Some 16 riders, four of whom suffered what the Guardian calls "life changing injuries," were stranded for hours at a 45-degree angle more than 20 feet above the ground after their coaster car smashed into an empty one. Authorities say two men, aged 18 and 27, and two women, aged 19 and 17, were airlifted to a hospital with serious leg injuries after they were finally freed from the ride, the BBC reports.
"The ride was delayed because of a technical fault for a while and then the ride came back on," a witness tells the BBC. "They sent a carriage without any people on it first and then sent a carriage with people on and that was the one that crashed. The platform of the ride where we were vibrated and [there was] a massive loud crash." This is far from the first incident involving the Smiler, the Guardian notes: In the two years the $27 million ride has been in operation, it has been shut down twice due to safety issues, and before it opened to the public, 16 journalists on a preview ride were stranded at an angle for around 30 minutes. (Read more roller coasters stories.)