A young couple seriously injured in the Alton Towers rollercoaster crash were on their ‘first official date’, a friend revealed today.
Joe Pugh, 18, and Leah Washington, 17, have been named in South Yorkshire as two of the four people who suffered serious leg wounds on the Staffordshire theme park’s Smiler ride yesterday.
A friend of the pair in their home town of Barnsley said today that they had only been together for a week and ‘wanted to do something fun’ for the day.
Alice Holmes, 18, a barmaid at Oaks Working Men’s Club, where Mr Pugh works, said: ‘It was sort of their first official date’.
She added: ‘They had just got together last week and they wanted to do something fun together. They walk their dogs together but had only just got together.
‘When me and Joe were in work on Saturday, Leah texted him saying she wanted to do something different for their date.’
Miss Holmes added: ‘Joe text me at 1.40pm from Alton Towers just saying jokey things. That was when I knew he was there.
‘I went to the cinema after that and then I heard the news about Alton Towers. I thought “it can’t be him”. There are so many people who go there, I just thought it wouldn’t be him.
‘I text him asking if he was ok and my message wasn’t coming up as read. Joe is on his phone all the time and I started getting worried because I could see that he hadn’t read my message.
Joe is into fashion and I could see him on the footage online. I knew it was him straight away because he had posted a picture of his outfit.
‘I know his mum and dad have gone down to the hospital. I’m not sure how he is doing at the moment or what his injuries are like. I really hope that he is doing well and that his family are ok.’
Oaks Working Men’s Club today posted a message on Facebook which read: ‘After hearing the news about the terrible accident at Alton Towers it has to come to our attention that a member of our staff was involved.
‘We at the oaks WMC would like to extend our prayers and best wishes in the speedy recovery of our barman Joe Pugh and his girlfriend Leah Washington.’
A spokesman for Oaks WMC added: ‘As soon as we saw the pictures on the news we knew it was Joe. He has a style that everybody knows. He started working here in February and he has done a lot of shifts since then.
‘Joe lives with his parents and commutes to university in Huddersfield. His girlfriend lives in this area too.
‘Joe is a nice lad and we hope that he will be ok. We could see on the news that he was on a stretcher but we don’t know the extent of his injuries.’
Friends used Twitter to send get well messages to the couple. Kay Eggleston tweeted: ‘Wishing Joe Pugh and his girlfriend a speedy recovery after yesterday.’