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Inquest advised that Dreamworld ride had ‘rat’s nest’ of wiring before October 2016 fatalities

Inquest advised that Dreamworld ride had ‘rat’s nest’ of wiring before October 2016 fatalities
June 28, 2018

A Coronial inquest into the deaths of four people at Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld in October 2016 has heard there was a "rat's nest" of wiring at the Thunder River Rapids ride control panel that could have led to dangerous malfunctions.

The comment came hours after the inquest was told that even though electricians knew there was something wrong with the ride, they did not look for the cause and just kept resetting water pumps when they broke down.

The inquest also heard a water pump on the ride, developed in-house by Dreamworld in the 1980s, but closely river rapids rides supplied by several manufacturers to amusement and theme parks around the world, had broken down five times in the week of the fatal crash.

Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low died on the Thunder River Rapids ride on 25th October 2016, after their vessel collided with another and flipped when a large pump feeding the ride failed and water levels dropped.

Under cross-examination by barrister Matthew Hickey for Low's family, electrician Francoire De Villiers, who reset the ride hours before the tragedy, was shown a photograph of heavy wiring of the control panel.

Hickey asked if the installation was poor, to which De Villiers replied  "yes".

The electrician agreed the wiring could "possibly" lead to dangerous malfunctions of the ride.

De Villiers said he notified his supervisor of the issue each time he performed maintenance and thought there was going to be an upgrade before the fatal malfunction.

The Coroner's Court was also shown a final letter of warning sent by Dreamworld management to De Villiers for a safety breach on a ride one month prior to the fatal incident, in which guests were "significantly jolted".

The letter stated "iIn consideration of the seriousness of this matter - you have been issued with a final written warning.”

De Villiers told the Court he was aware of at least three prior faults when he was called to the ride on the day of the fatal accident and agreed it "rang alarm bells".

He advised "it did. I went to my supervisor, I tested the pump.”

De Villiers said he was due to test the motor of the pump the day after the tragedy.

After giving evidence, De Villiers also addressed the victims' family members, advising “I just wish to offer my sincerest condolences to all of the family of the victims.”

As reported by the ABC, earlier yesterday, a Dreamworld technician told the inquest no electricians tried to identify the cause of pump failures at the water ride in the week of the fatal accident on 25th October.

Electrician Jacob Wilson said he helped reset a water pump on both 19th and 22nd October but neither he nor his colleagues attempted to "diagnose the cause" of the fault.

The inquest has been told a large water pump feeding the Thunder River Rapids ride failed three times on 25th October, the day of the fatalities.

When the ride malfunctioned on the third occasion, water levels dropped and a raft was left stranded on the conveyor belt and a vessel carrying the victims crashed into it.

Wilson was shown the company's breakdown procedure which 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".

He said that was not his understanding of the policy, adding "I understood it to be if a fault occurred more than twice we were to contact the shift supervisor or a supervisor to discuss what to do next.”

Under cross-examination, Wilson agreed a device could have easily been installed to stop the conveyor from moving if the pumps stopped working.

Yesterdau also saw Dreamworld CCTV footage of the fatal accident played to a closed session of the Coroner's Court hearing.

At least one member of the victims' family chose to remain in the court to view the footage.

Counsel assisting the Coroner Ken Fleming QC spoke with the media outside the courthouse about the closed session.

Fleming advised “the video wasn't shown to the public because of the sensitivity of it.

"It's awful footage no matter how you look at it and the families of those who died were given the option of being there and it is simply not for public consumption.

"It is a video of the footage from about three or four minutes before the actual incident occurred up to the incident.

"We thought it inappropriate to show the public, but necessary for our purposes to actually see it and to put it in perspective having heard all the evidence we have about it."

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

27th June 2018 - DREAMWORLD RIDE TRAINER TOLD POLICE THAT JUNIOR OPERATOR KNEW ABOUT EMERGENCY SHUTDOWN

26th June 2018 - INQUEST HEARS THAT DREAMWORLD CUT BACK MAINTENANCE IN MONTHS BEFORE 2016 RIDE FATALITIES

25th June 2018 - INQUEST EVIDENCE CAUSING ‘IRRETRIEVABLE’ DAMAGE TO DREAMWORLD’S REPUTATION

23rd June 2018 - VICTIMS’ FAMILY ‘DEVASTATED AND HORRIFIED’ BY EVIDENCE AT DREAMWORLD INQUEST

26th February 2018 - ARDENT LEISURE CUTS LOSSES, ANNOUNCES NEW MAIN EVENT CHIEF EXECUTIVE 

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

20th December 2017 - ARDENT LEISURE SELLS BOWLING CENTRES DIVISION FOR $160 MILLION

26th October 2017 - DREAMWORLD MARKS RIDE TRAGEDY ANNIVERSARY WITH QUIET STAFF COMMEMORATION

21st October 2017 - QUEENSLAND POLICE SAY NO STAFF SHOULD BE PROSECUTED OVER 2016 DREAMWORLD DEATHS 

9th May 2017 - DREAMWORLD SUFFERS FURTHER ATTENDANCE AND REVENUE SLUMP 

27th April 2017 - DEBORAH THOMAS TO STEP ASIDE AS ARDENT LEISURE CHIEF EXECUTIVE

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

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

23rd February 2017 - DREAMWORLD CLOSURE DRAGS ARDENT LEISURE TO $49 MILLION HALF YEAR LOSS 

26th September 2016 - NEIL BALNAVES TO DEPART ARDENT LEISURE AS GROUP ANNOUNCES NAME CHANGE

10th July 2013 - CHANGE OF LEADERSHIP AT ARDENT LEISURE THEME PARKS

15th December 2011 - DREAMWORLD CELEBRATES 30TH BIRTHDAY 

29th October 2011 - PRICE WAR HITS REVENUE AT ARDENT ATTRACTIONS 


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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.

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