A TEENAGE theme park worker told last night how she clung for her life after the rollercoaster she was checking was activated as a joke.

Sasha Higgins, from Catterick Village, was performing a routine pre-opening check of the safety belts on The Twister at Lightwater Valley, near Ripon, when it suddenly started up.

Miss Higgins said her fellow ride operator laughed at her screams for help as the ride climbed 13m and spun her around in the waltzer-style carriage.

She said: “Luckily another ride attendant heard me and stopped the ride, but I was up there for what felt like about half an hour before I got down.

“I was completely traumatised and have been signed off work by a doctor for stress – fortunately I wasn’t physically hurt but I was absolutely terrified and still feel shaken by it.”

Last night Lightwater Valley said the operator had been dismissed following the terrifying incident. The company reiterated that it had an unswerving commitment to the health and safety of all visitors and employees to the park, which is one of the region's most popular attractions.

The Twister is one of the park’s “ultimate adventure” attractions described as being “full of seriously tight turns, giving riders the impression that they might not make it around the next corner, with the threat of plummeting into the treetops”.

In 2001, student Gemma Savage died when two cars collided on the ride, then known as theTreetop Twister.

Miss Higgins, who has worked as a ride operator since March, said although park management had responded promptly at the time she had been left wanting more information following the incident.

She said: “The park was brilliant after it happened and looked after me, but since then I had to keep calling them to find out what was happening with the investigation.”

A spokesman for Lightwater Valley said: “We sincerely apologise to the member of staff for what happened.

“We have always been and continue to be committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of all our visitors and employees.

“Following this incident, our main concern was the welfare of the ride attendant who was checked by trained first aiders. There were no injuries but she was understandably shaken by the experience and we have remained in contact with her.

“The fully trained, experienced, senior ride operator involved was immediately dismissed after the incident.

“Everyone at Lightwater Valley is given full health and safety training and are aware of their responsibilities - we will not tolerate behaviour that puts any of our visitors or employees at risk.”