A SALISBURY family had a lucky escape after they were involved in a crash at a Wiltshire safari park.
Helen Corson, her husband Richard and their three daughters were in their car waiting to enter the tiger enclosure at Longleat Safari Park when one of the park’s safari buses had a brake failure and crashed into the back of them.
The incident happened on August 5 and the safari and adventure park’s problems got worse last week when six people were injured when two carriages of a train at the park came off the track and overturned with more than 150 people onboard.
Mrs Corson, whose children are eight, five and 14 months old, said her family were very shaken up by their incident, which resulted in their car being written off.
She said: “The safari bus just came down the hill and hit a post first, then hit our car. Thank goodness it hit the post first or it could have been much worse.
“I praise the driver and thank him for his quick thinking to drive into the post first. Even now I still think to myself what could have happened.”
But Mrs Corson was less than impressed with the park’s handling of the situation. “We had to make our own way to customer services and weren’t even offered a seat or a cup of tea when we were in shock. We had to just stand in the square giving a statement. The staff were all really polite and apologetic but at the time it just didn’t feel like we were being treated right.”
Mrs Corson also said the family, who live in Fugglestone Red, rely on their car, which was 13 years old but very well maintained. The money the insurance company offered would not have been enough to buy a new similar car and they faced up to six months of saving and struggling without transport.
On Friday Longleat offered them £1,000 compensation that, with the insurance money, will enable them to replace their much-needed vehicle.
Longleat said the bus had undergone external maintenance checks the morning of the accident and had passed, but was taken out of service immediately after the accident. A faulty brake was identified and fixed and the bus returned to service a week later after rigorous checks.
The cause of the train derailment is still being investigated.
Mrs Corson says it hasn’t put her family off visiting Longleat. They buy season tickets every other year and she has been going for more than 30 years. “I still feel I would be safe in the park. Every place has their issues, as long as they learn from it. Once I spoke to them personally on Friday I didn’t feel concerned. I do still trust them.
“We are definitely going to go back. Even a week after the crash my five-year-old asked if we could go again.”