Student’s life was ‘ruined’ when legs were crushed on Thorpe Park ride

Student, 19, who says her life was ‘ruined’ when her legs were crushed on Thorpe Park’s Loggers Leap flume ride receives £20,000 in compensation

  • Leah Napolitano was 14 when she was pulled from the log flume in agony
  • The student, from Colchester, suffered years of pain after her legs were wedged
  • She was awarded compensation after she claims staff crammed people on ride 

 Leah Napolitano, 19, was at the front of the carriage when she claims weight of her entire family behind forced her knees under the barrier at Thorpe Park

A teenager who has suffered in agony for five years after her legs were crushed in a log flume ride at Thorpe Park has been awarded £20,000 in compensation. 

Leah Napolitano, 19, was at the front of the carriage when she claims the weight of her entire family wedged her knees under the barrier at the theme park in Surrey. 

The student, from Colchester, says she was left in agony and had to be pulled from the Loggers Leap ride by staff when it came to an end.

Hospital tests showed Miss Napolitano, who was 14 at the time, suffered nerve damage, a swollen knee joint, long-term hypersensitivity and soft tissue damage in her left leg.

For five years since the accident, the once-active teen hasn’t been able to play any sport or walk for more than a couple of miles despite years of physiotherapy.

Miss Napolitano piled on more than two stone and developed chronic anxiety, PTSD and depression as a result, and she said can’t use public transport due to a fear of being trapped.  

The family claimed the injury happened after staff crammed too many people on the ride, which permanently shut in February this year.

The theme park’s insurers paid her £20,000 in April last year, for ‘claims […] arising out of an accident’.

Speaking for the first time, Miss Napolitano said: ‘My legs were completely trapped. I couldn’t move them for the whole way round. I got to the end and couldn’t get out.

‘The boat was still moving and a staff member tried to yank me out. I was completely trapped under the metal bar at the front.


Hospital tests showed Miss Napolitano, who was 14 at the time, suffered nerve damage and a swollen knee joint (left) from the Logger Leap ride (right) 

‘They did stop the ride and it made it easier to get out but I was in a lot of pain. I was there on a family day out and it has changed my life.

‘The money didn’t mean anything to me really, but it was the principle. No money will replace the last five years of my life.

‘I haven’t reached my potential because of this. I would swap the £20,000 to get the last few years of my life back without a doubt.

‘It has left me devastated and still affects me now.’

Miss Napolitano piled on more than two stone and developed chronic anxiety, PTSD and depression as a result, and she said can’t use public transport due to a fear of being trapped 

Miss Napolitano was injured while visiting the theme park with her mum Sharon, 45, sister, Jodie, 22, Jodie’s boyfriend Jordan Hilliard, 23, and her school friend, Mia Smith, 19, in April 2014.

The teen jumped in the front seat of the log ride and said her legs were ‘killing’ from the moment she sat down, with her friends and family ‘crammed’ in behind her.

She said she didn’t have time to speak up before being swept along, and the movement saw her get further wedged, with her knees being painfully crushed beneath a metal bar.

She said: ‘I was sat at the front and my mum was sat directly behind me. I sat down and stretched my legs out and they felt really squashed

‘It was really painful and it made me teary. I remember being scared for my safety.

‘The best way to describe it was I was wedged under the bar.

‘It was embarrassing. My mum ended up having to raise her voice to get them to stop the ride.


Miss Napolitano says the pain would keep her up at night and her leg became so swollen that wearing jeans was no longer an option

‘I was in a lot of pain and went straight to the toilet. I pulled my jeans down and my knee looked grazed.

‘It had already become swollen just above my knee cap. It was already double the size it was before.’

Miss Napolitano said she didn’t go to the hospital straight away because she thought the swelling would disappear, but went to her GP a few days later when it got worse.

But walking became difficult as the pain and swelling intensified.

She says the pain would keep her up at night and her leg became so swollen that wearing jeans was no longer an option.

She spent the rest of the school year at home, and attended several physio appointments in a year in the hope of desensitising the pain.

She spent the rest of the school year at home, and attended several physio appointments in a year in the hope of desensitising the pain

She was initially diagnosed with a contusion on her left knee and was referred to therapists, then physiotherapists for rehabilitation treatment.

Eight months after the incident she was diagnosed with ‘hypersensitive knee with deconditioning’.

Miss Napolitano says she still has as an intense, deep, burning sensation just above her left knee cap and experiences sharp pains when walking, which is almost impossible.

She said: ‘The pain is life changing. It’s a stupid injury that has ruined my teenage years. It has left me absolutely devastated and still affects my life now.’

Following the accident, Miss Napolitano missed classes and didn’t go to university as she had hoped.

She was due to start a college course, but pulled out due to social anxiety and self-confidence issues.

She used to play competitive football, but since the accident hasn’t been able to do any exercise and developed chronic anxiety, PTSD and depression, she said. 

She has had cognitive behavioural therapy to help her overcome anxiety which she said developed because she was ashamed of her new appearance.

And she said she once begged her mum not to take her to school because she felt ashamed of her appearance, after putting on weight.

She used to play competitive football, but since the accident hasn’t been able to do any exercise and developed chronic anxiety, PTSD and depression, she said

She said: ‘I was such a happy kid at school and I loved being active. I used to play sport four or five times a week. I have lost all of my sporting ability. It was my world.

‘I gained weight and lost a lot of confidence. I begged my mum not to take me to school because I hated how I looked.

‘I ended up not having a social life because I didn’t want to leave the house. It has been awful for me. I have no idea if it will ever get better.

‘All of my nerves are exceptionally damaged. I have got permanent pain and swelling caused by the trauma of being crushed.’

Miss Napolitano has had nerve treatment in an attempt to desensitise the damaged nerves and still has electronic shock treatment on her leg every nine months.

She said doctors reckon it will take another year for her pain to ease, but she fears she may never fully recover.

Her family complained to staff members two weeks after the incident and then dealt with Thorpe Park’s legal team, Chubb.

In a report for Chubb, Thorpe Park’s insurers, a vascular surgeon said: ‘It is my view that Miss Napolitano suffered some superficial skin ischaemia during the ride at Thorpe Park and has resulted in a small fibre neuropathy in the skin overlying the suprapatella bursa’

She claims she rejected the firm’s first offer of £12,500, and says that amount felt like a ‘joke’ after enduring long-term suffering.

Chubb came back with a second offer, of £20,000, which Miss Napolitano accepted.

She said: ‘In my mind this shouldn’t happen to anyone else. When it happened I honestly thought it would just get better.

‘I never expected it to impact on my life like it has. I’m scared of public transport now out of fear of entrapment.

‘On a day to day basis I struggle to do any sort of fitness. When I go out with my family, walking around can be agony.

‘My doctor said I may never get back to normal. The pain has been hideous since day one. It’s there 24/7.

‘I never expected it to impact on my life like it has. I’m scared of public transport now out of fear of entrapment.

The Logger’s Leap ride closed down five years ago, in November 2015, after park bosses announced it would not open for the 2016 season.

It first opened in 1989 and entertained families for over 25 years with its record breaking 50ft drop finale.

A Thorpe Park spokesperson said: ‘The details of Ms Napolitano’s claim in 2014 were analysed by the company’s insurers, and after thorough consideration of the evidence submitted, an offer of compensation was made to Ms Napolitano, which she accepted as full and final settlement.’

Chubb declined to comment.

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