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Dreamworld ride ‘should not have been in service’ at time of four guest fatalities

Dreamworld ride ‘should not have been in service’ at time of four guest fatalities
June 29, 2018

An engineering supervisor at Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld has told a Coronial inquest that the attraction’s Thunder River Rapids ride "should not have been in service" when it malfunctioned and killed four people.

The inquest is examining the deaths of Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low, who died in October 2016 when their raft hit another stranded on a conveyor belt after a large pump failed and water levels drastically dropped.

The inquiry had earlier heard that a water pump broke down twice hours before the fatal crash and was repeatedly reset by Dreamworld technicians who did not look for the cause of the problem.

The pumps had also broken down on three separate occasions before the fatalities occurred, making it the sixth pump failure.

As of yesterday (Friday 29th June) Counsel assisting the Coroner Ken Fleming asked engineering supervisor Peter Gardner "how many times must something break down … within a short space of time before somebody says enough is enough?"

Gardner replied “before a review is (under)taken, ... twice … twice in the same day.”

Fleming then asked “that ride should not have been in service after it broke down a second time, should it?"

Gardner replied "no."

Members of the engineering team previously gave evidence that they understood the theme park's breakdown procedure was that rides could break down three times before being shut down, which conflicted with the official written procedure.

During cross examination by barrister Matthew Hickey for Low's family, Gardner was shown Dreamworld's ride breakdown procedure.

It stated “if there is a repeat of the fault within the next 24 hours do not attempt to rectify the fault until the engineering supervisor has been notified and given authority to rectify the problem.”

Hickey then asked "are you aware that there is a body of evidence before his honour that suggests that members of the engineering team were under the misapprehension that it was in fact three faults that needed to occur before action needed to be taken?"

Gardner replied "no, I wasn't aware."

Hickey “have you ever told people of your team that that was the procedure?"

Gardner replied "no."

Hickey told the Court that engineering staff had testified they were told verbally by supervisors if a ride failed three times it would be shut down.

Gardner denied supervisors said that.

Hickey asked "if they think it's three times they're wrong, aren't they?"

Gardner replied "correct.”

Under cross examination by barrister Steven Whybrow, Gardner suggested that the manufacturer could have been called upon to help assess the issues, seemingly overlooking that the ride, while closely resembling river rapids rides supplied by several manufacturers to amusement and theme parks around the world, had been constructed in-house by Dreamworld in the 1980s,.

Gardner also advised the Court that he was never given full reports of ride audits but was delegated parts of them if there were any issues to be dealt with.

Gardner said he had not taken part in any internal investigation following the tragedy and was not aware if any engineering staff had been sanctioned.

Hickey asked "you have no way of knowing if there are currently people in your department who may well be responsible for those events, do you?"

Gardner replied "no."

Gardner said he was not aware of any safety concerns on the Thunder River Rapids ride and would have reported it to his manager if he had known.

With inquest has now been adjourned until October.

Images: Dreamworld’s Thunder River Rapids ride in operation prior to the October 2016 fatalities (top) and Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low were killed when they were thrown from the ride (below, courtesy of Facebook). 

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

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29th September 2017 - GARY WEISS TAKES ON CHAIRMAN’S ROLE AT ARDENT LEISURE

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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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