One stop button ‘ordered for ride’
A SENIOR Dreamworld supervisor was asked to investigate simplifying the Thunder River Rapids ride’s emergency shutdown procedures just months before the tragedy that claimed four lives.
In another day of dramatic evidence at the inquest into the 2016 disaster, Dreamworld came under fire for lengthy delays in the delivery of thousands of documents to the coroner’s office and lawyers for the families of victims Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low.
The inquest has heard from ride operators who felt overwhelmed by the large number of tasks involved in operating the attraction and its complicated shutdown systems.
However, giving evidence yesterday, attractions supervisor Jason Johns disputed suggestions the shutdown procedures were difficult, but he admitted he had been asked by senior management to look at ways to simplify the process from four steps to a single emergency stop button.
He sent an email to key staff in May 2016 asking about the possibility of condensing the shutdown procedure but no further action was taken.
The failure of the attendants on duty to shut down the ride as the raft carrying the victims and two children suddenly lurched on its axis and tossed them towards the conveyor belt below has been one of the major focal points of the inquest, with Dreamworld’s operating practices coming under intense scrutiny.
However, Mr Johns said the shutdown process was “simple” and no operator had ever raised any concerns with him.
Dreamworld and parent company Ardent Leisure were also slammed for the delivery this week of thousands of previously unseen documents relevant to the investigation.
“This is for a very large organisation who were responsible for the ride where four people have died – the worst tragedy of this type in the history of theme parks,” said Ken Fleming QC, counsel assisting the coroner. “Two years later ... we still haven’t got the documents we require.”
Barrister Matthew Hickey, acting for Mrs Low’s family, said the delayed document dump could lead to witnesses who have already given evidence being forced to return.
He said the families, the community, and even Ardent Leisure, were entitled to know what happened.
The inquest was also shown records detailing problems with the rafts involved in the accident in the weeks beforehand.
One kept getting stuck and was hard to manoeuvre, while the other sat low in the water and was “hard to move”.
The inquest will resume on Monday.