A Queensland coroner’s report into the Thunder River Rapids Ride accident at Dreamworld in 2016 that killed four people has recommended that Dreamworld’s parent company – Ardent Leisure – be prosecuted by the Queensland Office of Industrial Relations.
Canberrans Kate Goodchild, 32, her brother Luke Dorsett, 35, his partner Roozi Araghi, 38, and Sydney woman Cindy Low, 42, were killed when their raft collided with an empty raft on the Thunder River Rapids Ride after a pump failed.
Kate’s 12-year-old daughter and Cindy’s 10-year-old son survived the accident, while Kate’s husband David watched the incident unfold with their eight-month-old baby nearby.
The court heard heart-wrenching statements from the families of those who died before coroner James McDougall handed down his recommendations. He concluded that there was a “systematic failure by Dreamworld in relation to all aspects of safety”.
Kim Dorsett, the mother of Luke and Kate, spoke about how much her son and his partner Roozi loved each other after being together for nine years. She described her daughter as the “best mummy to her two girls”.
“We exist in a world full of grief and shattered family and friends. Three mothers who have lost their children living with broken hearts and souls, and let us not forget those four beautiful children who will now grow up without a mum and that is what this is really about,” Ms Dorsett said.
Shayne Goodchild, the father of Luke and Kate, said the deaths had left a “gaping hole in their hearts”.
“Kate was the lifeblood of the family unit. She had a wonderful sense of humour that was enjoyed by the whole family,” he said in a statement.
“If someone needed help Luke and Roozi provided it. To say we miss them every day does not begin to encompass our grief and loss.”
The 300-page report found that there were significant risks with the Thunder River Rapids Ride, including the fact that there was no emergency stop button for the conveyor on the main control panel.
The ride’s safety certificate – issued by external engineer Thomas Polly just weeks before the incident – fell below industry standards, while the ride’s operator received just 90-minutes of training the morning before her shift, the coroner said.
“Obvious hazards posed a risk to the safety of patrons at the ride and would have been easily identifiable to a competent person had one ever been commissioned to conduct hazard assessments of the ride,” Coroner McDougall said.
After a 2004 incident, a report recommended that there should be engineering controls to stop rafts hitting each other.
This recommendation was ignored by Dreamworld.
“There is no evidence that Dreamworld ever conducted a proper risk assessment of the ride in its 30 years of commission,” Coroner McDougall said.
The report recommended regulatory changes around inspection and licensing of amusement parks, and that full inspections should be undertaken every five to 10 years.
Coroner McDougall referred Ardent Leisure to the Office of Industrial Relations and recommended they be prosecuted. He also referred Mr Polley for a review before his registering board.
“It is arguable that Mr Polley’s conduct in issuing the … certification for the Thunder River Rapids Ride … without any documentation pertaining to the ride being supplied by the park and failure to properly inspect the ride was a failure which falls below the industry standards expected of a registered engineer in Queensland,” he said.
It was very fortunate that no one else had been killed on the ride before the 2016 incident, the coroner concluded, saying that it was simply a matter of time before a serious incident occurred.