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Dreamworld inquest hears that ride staff were told not to ‘worry about’ emergency stop button

Dreamworld inquest hears that ride staff were told not to ‘worry about’ emergency stop button
June 19, 2018

The Coronial inquest into the deaths of four people on the Thunder River Rapids ride at Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld has heard that the fatalities could have been prevented if staff had pushed an emergency ride halt button.

Detective Sergeant Nicola Brown told the court a young female ride operator had access to an emergency button, which could stop the ride within two seconds, but she told Queensland Police she was not aware what the switch really did.

The opening day of the inquest at Southport Coroners Court also heard a claim from a Dreamworld staff member that she’d been told not to “worry about” an emergency stop button for the ride on which four guests died in October 2016.

The inquest also heard that the ride was reset by engineers after breaking down twice in hours before the fatal incident.

Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett and Roozi Araghi died instantly after being flipped from a raft when the Thunder River Rapids ride malfunctioned.

Barrister Steven Whybrow, representing victims Kate Goodchild and Luke Dorsett, said an emergency stop button was not clearly labelled, staff were confused by the ride’s controls and that one staff member was unaware of its exact function.

Whybrow asked Detective Sergeant Brown, Queensland Police’s lead investigator “she (the operator) was told not to worry about that button, no one uses it?”

Detective Sergeant Brown replied “yes”.

Whybrow added that a memo sent to staff in the days before the tragedy had dissuaded staff from using the emergency button.

The inquest heard the main control panel for the ride also did not have an emergency switch which would shut down the ride, with a second switch needing to be used to halt the ride’s conveyor belt.

Detective Sergeant Brown added “it is a confusing control panel, and that has been raised by the auditors.”

The inquest heard the ride operator at the control panel when the tragedy occurred “wasn’t sure which button to press”.

Investigators told the inquest that the ride staff had 57 seconds to identify a raft was trapped on a conveyor belt before a second raft, carrying the victims, hit it and flipped.

Detective Sergeant Brown also advised that an automatic sensor to shut down the ride if water levels dropped to a dangerous level would have prevented the tragedy.

Earlier on Monday counsel assisting Ken Fleming QC revealed the ride had a history of malfunctions and detailed several other incidents.

Fleming said one incident, in January 2001, had resulted in several empty rafts colliding at the unloading point of the ride.

Fleming, quoting an email between Dreamworld staff after the 2001 incident, advised “I shudder when I think if there had been guests on that ride.”

In October 2016, when the raft containing the four victims, as well as two children, collided with another raft, it flipped over and dropped them into the conveyor system.

All four victims were killed instantly from compressive and crushing injuries.

Goodchild’s 12-year-old daughter and Low’s 10-year-old son survived the incident.

Fleming said the tragedy had been “felt Australia-wide” and the main aim of the inquest was to prevent any similar tragedies from happening again.

The families have sought answers and relatives of Low have said how they hoped the probe would prevent others from suffering “such enormous heartbreak”.

Dreamworld suffered steep falls in visitor numbers following the fatal accident and the attraction’s subsequent 45-day shutdown.

Before Monday’s inquest, several hearings were held and attended by lawyers for the four victims; Dreamworld Chief Executive, Craig Davidson; Dreamworld’s parent company, Ardent Leisure; and the Office of Industrial Relations.

The inquest continues with 37 witnesses to be called to give evidence over two weeks.

Image: Dreamworld's Thunder River Rapids Ride in operation prior to the October 2016 fatalities.

18th June 2018  - CORONIAL INQUEST BEGINS INTO 2016 DREAMWORLD FATALITIES

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18th February 2018 - ARDENT LEISURE CHAIRMAN EXCITED BY DREAMWORLD’S PROSPECTS THROUGH 2018 

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9th November 2017 - ARDENT LEISURE CHIEF EXECUTIVE SIMON KELLY TO LEAVE AFTER JUST FOUR MONTHS IN ROLE

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16th October 2017 - QUEENSLAND PARLIAMENT PASSES INDUSTRIAL MANSLAUGHTER LAWS IN WAKE OF DREAMWORLD FATALITIES 

27th August 2017 - DREAMWORLD TRAGEDY HIGHLIGHTS LEGAL DUTY OF CARE FOR THEME PARK GUESTS

23rd August 2017 - QUEENSLAND TO IMPLEMENT NEW SAFETY LAWS FOLLOWING DREAMWORLD TRAGEDY REPORT

11th July 2017 - DREAMWORLD BATTLES INCONSISTENT ATTENDANCES AND FALLING REVENUES

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24th May 2017 - ARDENT LOOKS TO QUASH DREAMWORLD SALE RUMOURS, EXPLORES SITE REZONING PLAN

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16th April 2017 - CONSULTING ENGINEER REBUTS AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY RIDE SAFETY ‘INVESTIGATION’

4th April 2017 - ARDENT LEISURE CHIEF EXECUTIVE ‘APPEARED TO BE DUCKING FOR COVER’ FOLLOWING DREAMWORLD FATALITIES 

13th March 2017 - PARKZ WEBSITE LAUNCHES SUPPORT OUR THEME PARKS CAMPAIGN 

16th January 2017 - PERCEPTION OF SAFETY AND SECURITY BOOST AUSTRALIA’S INTERNATIONAL TOURISM GROWTH 

10th December 2016 - GUESTS TRICKLE BACK AS DREAMWORLD REOPENS 

29th October 2016 - QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT TO UNDERTAKE ‘SAFETY BLITZ’ ON THEME PARKS


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Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

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