Vicky Balch, one of the women who lost her leg in a rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers in June 2015, has hit back at critics mocking her for her recent lingerie photoshoot. The 21-year-old amputee condemned the insults as a hate crime against disabled people, urging action to be taken against them.
In a series of images posting on the Mirror's website, Balch appears in a boxing gym in a show of defiance against her critics. She has promised to call the police if people continue sending her abusive messages on social media.
She told the Mirror: "I'm only human and the negative comments about the shoot did upset me. But even at my lowest points I haven't regretted it for a second."
She insisted that she has no regrets about the lingerie photoshoot, despite many on Twitter attacking her by saying she was "milking" her accident. Balch was seriously injured when the Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers crashed into a stationary carriage, resulting in her and another passenger having their legs amputated.
Balch continued: "The attacks on me have made me realise people who target the disabled online are just as bad as people who are racist or homophobic. They should be treated in the same way – even if it means them being sent to jail."
She went on to note that she had received a lot of abuse from people online even before the photoshoot, with one person allegedly telling her she should die just one month after her accident. Others have suggested that the Smiler crash was a hoax and that Balch is an actress.
"I was broken then but now I'm the strongest I've ever been and I've learned not to let bullies win or stoop to their level," said Balch. "If someone said that to me now, I'd call the police because it's a hate crime. Yet I've also been moved to tears by the positive comments."
She explained that a woman with terminal cancer had emailed her to say she had shown her that she could feel sexy despite losing her hair. Balch also said that she had been asked on dozens of dates and that two men had even proposed to her.
"It hasn't just made me feel sexy again," Balch said about her lingerie photoshoot. "It's inspired others who have struggled to feel confident in their own skin."