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Coroner seeks to have Dreamworld inquest extended
The Coroner heading the inquiry into the October 2016 fatalities at Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld is seeking to have the hearings extended by a week so as to avoid them dragging on into the New Year.
After a two-week block of sittings in June, the inquest resumed last week for a further two weeks.
Another two weeks has been set aside for mid-November.
However, as of today Coroner James McDougall proposed adding an additional week to run from 17th to 21st December in Brisbane.
He said the full week may not be required but he would like the evidence to be completed by Christmas instead of dragging on into 2019.
The Coronial inquiry has today heard that the rafts on the Thunder River Rapids regularly took on too much water but that a manager told staff a proposal to shut down the ride for 30 minutes to drain water-logged rafts during the day would be like “World War Three”.
The Dreamworld Inquest was today shown an email from Attractions Manager Andrew Fyfe discussing problems with the Thunder River Rapids as the rafts were taking on too much water.
He said park technicians had suggested taking the ride offline for 30 minutes during the day to drain the rafts but that would start ‘World War III.’
The Thunder River Rapids was the most popular ride at Dreamworld and the inquest has been told guests would get angry or frustrated if it was not operating.
The inquiry also heard that Dreamworld Engineering Supervisor Scott Ritchie had proposed a comprehensive safety upgrade of the doomed Thunder River Rapids ride more than a year before the tragedy.
Ritchie wrote an email in August 2015, 14 months before the October 2016 disaster, detailing a proposal for a $10,000 upgrade of the ride’s operator control panel that would “future proof this system for years to come”.
He wrote “the existing operator controls have been adapted and added to over many years and are in a poor state.”
Ritchie proposed installing a water level monitor as one of his recommended upgrades, but that never happened.
The absence of a water level monitor was blamed as the main cause of the tragedy, according to a Workplace Health and Safety audit conducted after the disaster.
The inquiry was also advised of an email sent to Dreamworld management by a union official claiming staff preferred to cover up mistakes as they feared being sacked.
During Tuesday’s sitting of an inquest in to the Thunder River Rapids disaster in 2016, Coroner James McDougall was shown an email from Andrew Fyfe replying to concerns raised by a union delegate.
Referring to a near-miss on the ride in 2014, Fyfe wrote he was “both alarmed and compelled to hear your comments about staff preferring to cover up mistakes in the hope they would not face termination”.
15th October 2018 - Dreamworld inquest told $3,000 water level sensor would have prevented tragedy
9th October 2018 - Staff to sue Dreamworld over ‘significant psychological injuries’
22nd August 2018 - Ardent Leisure losses grow as Dreamworld’s value declines by $75 million
1st July 2018 - Coronial inquest claims Dreamworld Chief Executive
30th June 2018 - Ardent Leisure issues statement of apology over Dreamworld deaths
10th December 2016 - Guests trickle back as Dreamworld reopens
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