'Could this have been prevented?': Key questions - and uncertainty over future of trams at Ride the Lights - after teen is 'critically' hurt

A 14-year-old boy suffered 'critical' injuries after being hit by a tram during Ride the Lights in Blackpool, at around 9.50pm on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 (Picture: Steven King)
A 14-year-old boy suffered 'critical' injuries after being hit by a tram during Ride the Lights in Blackpool, at around 9.50pm on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 (Picture: Steven King)

Trams could be halted at future Ride the Lights events after a 14-year-old boy suffered “critical” injuries when he was trapped under one.

The teen is believed to have been biking with friends when he was hit by a new-style Bombardier tram opposite the Queen’s Hotel in South Shore last night.

Before the annual event, which was attended by thousands, police and tourism chiefs had warned that trams could pose a danger, and said bikers should “be aware that the tramway will be operational” and should “take special care” around North Pier and the Metropole Hotel.

Resort chiefs are now awaiting the results of a major investigation before deciding whether or not trams will run at next year’s Ride the Lights. That probe is being carried out by police and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), with input from Blackpool Transport.

READ MORE:: Boy, 14, in a 'critical condition' after being trapped under tram at Ride the Lights in Blackpool

CCTV footage captured from the cab of the tram, which had around 90 passengers on board, is expected to play a key role.

Council leader Simon Blackburn said: “We will be giving our full co-operation to the investigation that is now being undertaken ... to determine the circumstances surrounding this accident.

“Ride the Lights is a long-standing event, organised with a meticulous degree of planning to ensure all of the participants can enjoy a safe, car-free environment.”

The Prom was shut while resort firefighters, who are specially trained in tram rescues, freed the boy at around 9.50pm, alongside colleagues from the Chorley-based urban search and rescue team.

The youth was taken by road ambulance to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Merseyside with “multiple major trauma injuries”, including to his legs, the ambulance service said.

READ MORE:: This is how firefighters free people trapped under trams in Blackpool

“He was admitted to the major trauma ward in a critical condition,” a spokeswoman added.

One passenger on board the tram fell into another when it stopped suddenly. Both were checked over by paramedics but did not need treatment.

Tram services resumed for the final service at 12.30am today, with the tram involved due to be inspected for damage this morning before heading back out onto the tracks.

Jane Cole, the managing director at Blackpool Transport, said: “First and foremost, our thoughts are with the boy and his family. On behalf of Blackpool Transport, I would like to send him our best wishes and also our thanks to all the emergency services who assisted.”

Ms Cole said her staff would co-operate “fully” with the investigation “to understand how the incident happened and if it could have been prevented in any way”.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Lancashire Police said the boy was "riding along the tramway" when he was hit.

He fell from his bike "suffering some significant injuries" and was taken to Alder Hey, where he is being treated for "serious hip, pelvic and leg injuries".

The force did not immediately say who the teen was with, or where he is from.

Sgt Steve Hardman said: "Our thoughts first and foremost, are with the teenage boy who is seriously injured in hospital. We are working to establish exactly what happened and would appeal for the public’s help.”

“This happened on a particularly busy night for the resort, with thousands of cyclists taking part in the Ride the Lights event.

“We also know that there were a lot of spectators in the area. If you took any videos of the event, which may capture the collision, or were taking part and wearing a head cam, please check your footage and get in touch if you can help.”