Senior Dreamworld trainer had never pressed e-stop button

Amy Crisp arrives for the inquest into the Dreamworld disaster at the Magistrates Court at Southport. Photo: AAP. Courtesy: Brisbane Times

Senior Dreamworld ride trainer Amy Crisp had never seen what a two-second emergency stop button on the Thunder River Rapids Ride would do, telling the coronial inquest into the deaths of four people in October 2016 that pressing it would need “engineer intervention” to reset. 

On Wednesday morning, counsel assisting the inquiry Ken Fleming QC asked Ms Crisp if she knew exactly which of the two water pumps the button at the unload panel would stop, to which she said “no”.

Ms Crisp said she had never seen what the e-stop button would do if pressed.

“Had you ever had that demonstrated to you?” Mr Fleming asked.

“No,” Ms Crisp replied.

“It would have been very easy to have shown that, wouldn’t it? Your instructor could have said, ‘Come here and watch this’?” Mr Fleming asked.

“It would have required engineering intervention to reset, so if we had arranged to have an engineer on-site we could have arranged to hit the e-stop,” Ms Crisp said.

Mr Fleming said considering Dreamworld had “about 20” engineers on-site, arranging a demonstration should have been easy: Ms Crisp agreed.

“It’s fair to say the touching of that button wasn’t encouraged, was it?” Mr Fleming asked.

“In an emergency it was encouraged,” she said.

On Tuesday Ms Crisp testified that the e-stop button had been in place at least a month before the tragedy, contradicting a memo issued on October 18 that provided instructions on when and why the button should have stopped.

“There was definitely an e-stop button there before,” Ms Crisp said, adding that there had been an older metal button installed that was not surrounded in red and yellow to signify its importance.

She confirmed she had never pressed the old e-stop button or the new e-stop button.

The two-second e-stop button at the unload platform was not pressed during the 2016 incident in which a full raft hit an empty raft and flipped, killing Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi.

Senior ride operator Peter Nemeth earlier told the inquest on Wednesday that he pressed the shutdown button on the main operator console, which took about eight seconds to stop the ride, “two or three times”.

The e-stop button was within reach of junior ride operator Courtney Williams, who had been trained by Ms Crisp and was standing at the unload panel and watched the incident unfold. Ms Williams told the inquest last week she had “completely forgotten the e-stop”.

Ms Williams also told the inquest that Ms Crisp had told her “don’t worry about that button” during her training.

Questioned about the 90 minutes of training she had given Ms Williams, who was working on the Thunder River Rapids Ride for the first time on October 25, the day of the tragedy, Ms Crisp said she was confident Ms Williams understood her role.

Ms Crisp said that during training she took Ms Williams aside to the main operator panel at the loading bay for the ride, in between loading guests on rafts.

She showed Ms Williams the circular motion needed to press each button in sequence to shut down the ride, but agreed that Ms Williams never pressed any of the buttons during training.

Questioned by Mr Fleming on how she was absolutely certain Ms Williams knew all the procedures required for the ride, Ms Crisp said she knew Ms Williams had experience on other water rides such as the Rocky Hollow Log Ride.

“She acknowledged, she didn’t ask questions, Courtney was someone who would always ask questions if she didn’t understand something,” Ms Crisp said.

In a somewhat tense exchange between Mr Fleming and Ms Crisp, the senior ride trainer said she was fully confident in her training.

“I hope my training was enough that [Courtney Williams] could have stopped it,” she said.

“I know my training was sufficient … I’ve trained over 60 hours on that ride, so I do know.”

Questioned by barrister Matthew Hickey, who represented the family of victim Cindy Low, Ms Crisp said she previously worked as a waitress before starting her role at Dreamworld, where she rose to become a trainer in less than a year.

Ms Crisp was about 20 years old when she started training ride operators, she said, and was now one of the most experienced ride operators.

She confirmed she did not know the two emergency stop buttons that shut down the Thunder River Rapids Ride had differing shut-down times, and agreed that it would have been important knowledge for ride operators.

“To be honest we never saw this incident ever happening,” she said.

The inquest continues.