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Alton Towers Victim Joe Pugh Returned To Scene Of Rollercoaster Crash For Therapy

20/12/2015 12:10 GMT | Updated 20/12/2015 12:59 GMT

One of the victims of the Smiler rollercoaster crash has said he returned to the scene at Alton Towers on the advice of his counsellor.

Joe Pugh, 19, was in the front carriage with his girlfriend Leah Washington when it smashed into another cart during the crash at the Staffordshire theme park on June 2.

He was left with life-changing injuries after both his kneecaps were shattered, while Washington was one of two victims to have a leg amputated.

leah washington

Joe Pugh pictured helping fellow Alton Towers victim Leah Washington celebrate her 18th birthday earlier this year

University student Pugh, from Barnsley, said he has had anxiety issues since the accident, which an investigation found was caused by human error.

He told the Sunday People: "I'm so proud of how far we've both come. I had counselling for six weeks after the accident because I had issues with being in confined spaces and was getting anxious in crowds.

"I even went back to Alton Towers because my counsellor recommended it. It's incredibly difficult to talk about but I wanted to get stuff out of my mind. It has been such a traumatic year.

"I was in hospital for a month and was left with less than half a kneecap in my left knee and half a kneecap in my right one. I've been told I will recover but in the future I'll need knee replacements so there is more surgery in the pipeline."

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Overall, 16 people were injured when the carriage they were in struck another that had come to a halt on the track.

Vicky Balch and Daniel Thorpe, from Buxton, Derbyshire, and Chandaben Chauhan, 49, of Wednesbury, West Midlands, were also seriously injured.

Owner Merlin Entertainments said the ride would reopen next year.

But university student Balch, who had a leg amputated, has said she wants it shut for good.