Police and emergency crew at the scene of a horrific accident at Dreamworld where four people were killed. Picture: Regi Varghese
Police and emergency crew at the scene of a horrific accident at Dreamworld where four people were killed. Picture: Regi Varghese

Dreamworld terror link had to be ruled out

GOLD Coast police were forced to investigate terrorist links to the Dreamworld tragedy.

Ahead of the first anniversary of the Thunder River Rapids ride disaster in which four people died, The Courier-Mail can exclusively reveal that the police response had to first rule out the possibility of a terrorist attack, and whether other sites were also targets.

Detective Inspector Tod Reid. Picture: Adam Armstrong
Detective Inspector Tod Reid. Picture: Adam Armstrong

Detective Inspector Tod Reid, the most senior uniformed officer on duty that day, said the nightmare possibility of a terrorist attack was at the forefront of the initial police response.

"That was something that was on our minds from the outset," he said.

"Was this part of an actual attack?

"In the world that we live in these days, are we dealing with a deliberate act?

"Dreamworld is an iconic site for a potential target (and) if you're not thinking about these sorts of issues in this day and age, you're not thinking widely enough.

"We had to go through that before we could rule it out."

While any terror link was quickly ruled out, it was small consolation for many of the officers on the scene of what will go down as the most traumatic day of their careers.

Now, the Inspector Reid who was in charge of Logan's Criminal Investigation Branch, was the duty officer called to Dreamworld on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 25.

It had already been a gloomy start to the day as he joined dozens of colleagues farewelling his one-time mentor, the Gold Coast's former Superintendent Paul Ziebarth who died suddenly while go-karting with his son the previous week. But the day was about to get a whole lot worse.

"I remember I started on the 2pm shift, and I got the call that there had been an accident on a ride and there were people hurt," he said.

"You don't assume the worst, and there had been several ride malfunctions at the theme parks in the months before so I really had no idea, initially, what we were heading in to.

"But when I was still on the road I got another call that there was at least one fatality.

"That's when we knew that this was tragic."

It was Inspector Reid who appeared before the TV cameras later that afternoon, faced with the unenviable task of telling the world what had happened at one of the country's favourite tourist attractions.

"I knew my role was to give the public that first bit of information about what had happened, and also to reassure them that, yes, this has happened, but we're going to try and find out why, because people want to know why,'' he said.

Police and emergency personal at the scene of the Dreamworld tragedy. Picture: Regi Varghese
Police and emergency personal at the scene of the Dreamworld tragedy. Picture: Regi Varghese

A Queenslander who had enrolled in the police academy at Oxley, Inspector Reid has spent most of his life in the state's southeast.

He went to Dreamworld as a kid and has taken his own family to the theme park.

''They've even ridden the Thunder River Rapids, like hundreds of thousands of Queensland families before them.

"We said this at the time, but as police officers, you might go to a multiple fatality traffic accident, or you go to a homicide, that's just what we do," said Inspector Reid.

"But because of where happened, it changed everything.

"It made it more emotional for people because of their own connection to the place when they were kids and they went on that ride.

"It's not the sort of place that's supposed to happen at.

"You're supposed to be safe there and feel good and have a good time.

"You're not meant to die there."



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