Park heavies avoid heat
Dreamworld bosses won’t be called at inquest
DREAMWORLD bosses are set to escape a grilling at the inquest into the Thunder River Rapids ride tragedy which left four people dead.
The inquest is expected to finish today after more than six weeks of sittings, without two key figures facing interrogation over Australia’s worst theme park disaster.
Former Dreamworld chief executive Craig Davidson and the ex-CEO of parent company Ardent Leisure, Deborah Thomas, have not been called to give evidence at the inquest despite both being in charge at the time of the October 2016 tragedy.
Mr Davidson both resigned earlier this year and received payouts totalling more than $1.3 million. He has had his own barrister at the inquest, while Ardent is also represented.
A succession of Dreamworld staff, from young ride operators through to former operations manager Troy Margetts and safety boss Angus Hutchings, have been grilled at the coronial hearing, with some making emotional apologies to the families of the four victims.
Counsel assisting the inquest, Ken Fleming QC, said there were “good and valid reasons” why Mr Davidson and Ms Thomas had not been called but he could not elaborate.
Yesterday, the inquest heard details of a damning report into the disaster by a panel of three expert engineers commissioned to advise Coroner James McDougall as he frames his recommendations.
The panel found there were “obvious” hazards on the Thunder River Rapids ride that should have been rectified.
These included the removal of wooden slats on the conveyor, leaving an “excessive gap” that posed “a significant risk of injury to any person who fell onto the conveyor whilst it was in operation”.
Tourists Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi were killed when a pump malfunctioned for the third time on the day of the disaster and water levels plunged, causing their raft to flip on the conveyor.
One of the expert engineers, Dr Frank Grigg, told the hearing he believed at least one of the four would still be alive had the rafts been fitted with aircraft-style seatbelts.
“Why velcro (seat belts) were used is a mystery to me,” he said. The inquest was also told of proposed sweeping changes to theme park safety laws in Queensland in the wake of the tragedy.