Fatal Dreamworld ride had previous malfunctions, inquest hears

The four died instantly when their water ride overturned, crushing them. Courtesy: BBC

A ride that malfunctioned at Australia’s Dreamworld theme park, killing four people, had experienced “a number” of previous incidents, a court has heard. 

On Monday, the state of Queensland began a long-awaited inquest into the deaths of Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low in 2016.

The four died instantly when their water ride overturned, crushing them.

The ride had broken down at least three times previously, the inquest heard.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say this [disaster] has been felt Australia-wide,” counsel assisting the inquest, Ken Fleming QC, said in his opening remarks.

Mr Fleming said that the Thunder River Rapids Ride, a white-water rafting simulation, had malfunctioned two times in the hours before the tragedy.

The inquest was also told:

  • Ride operators were unaware of an emergency stop button, which could have shut it down in two seconds;
  • Dreamworld staff had raised concerns about the ride in 2001, after a similar incident involving a flipped raft;
  • The theme park received a low safety rating in a 2016 audit. 

Det Sgt Nicole Brown, from Queensland Police, told the inquest that a water pump had failed three times on the day of the accident.

Engineers reset the pump twice but its third failure prompted two rafts to collide, causing the accident. Two children were also ejected from the raft but survived.

The Thunder River Rapids Ride had been designed “as suitable and safe for the whole family”, Mr Fleming said.

Up to 37 witnesses are expected to testify at the two-week inquest, which will investigate the ride’s history, staff procedures and whether the accident could have been avoided.

Dreamworld’s owner, Ardent Leisure, demolished the ride last year.

Queensland introduced industrial manslaughter laws following the accidentand other unrelated workplace deaths.