Inquest bombshell: Dreamworld owner may face prosecution

 

Dreamworld has been blasted and its parent company Ardent may face prosecution after bombshell inquest findings deemed it had 'total' and 'systemic' failure in the lead up to the 2016 tragedy that claimed four lives.

The families of victims in the Dreamworld tragedy gave heartbreaking victim impact statements at the beginning of the findings today saying they have 'broken souls' - as the Coroner handed down scathing findings into the disaster saying hazards on the Thunder River Rapids ride posed 'significant risk' to patrons.

Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi died after the raft they were travelling in flipped when the theme-park ride malfunctioned on October 25, 2016.

Young girls walk through a floral tribute outside the Dreamworld Theme Park on the Gold Coast in 2016. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled.
Young girls walk through a floral tribute outside the Dreamworld Theme Park on the Gold Coast in 2016. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled.

Dreamworld's parent company Ardent could face prosecution after Coroner James McDougall recommended it be referred to the Office of Industrial Relations for consideration if there is sufficient evidence to show Ardent Leisure committed breaches under workplace laws.

"It is reasonably suspected that Ardent Leisure may have committed an offence under Workplace Health and Safety Law," he said.

"I refer my findings and the evidence gathered in the course of the inquest for further consideration as to these matters.

"Whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to prosecution is a matter for the Office of Industrial Relations."

Mr McDougall was scathing in his findings saying there was a 'total failure' and 'significant risk to the safety of patrons' due to the hazards identified on the ride which included the wide spacing of slats of the conveyor belt, steel support railing, the impact of pump failure and the absence of an emergency stop button.

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He said the hazards 'would have been easily identifiable to a competent person' if they had been commissioned to assess the ride and there was 'ample evidence for a disaster of this nature occurring had notice been taken and lessons learnt from preceding incidents'.

He said the cause of the tragedy was the failure of the ride's south pump.

Family members gave heart-wrenching victim impact statements at the start of the proceedings, saying they have 'broken souls' and carry guilt they were not there for their loved ones.

The brother of Cindy Low gave an explosive statement calling Dreamworld 'cowboys' and taking aim at his fellow family members.

The six-week inquest closed in December 2018 and heard testimony from dozens of witnesses, including emergency services personnel and Dreamworld staff.

Cindy Low, Roozi Araghi, Luke Dorsett and Kate Goodchild died in the tragedy.
Cindy Low, Roozi Araghi, Luke Dorsett and Kate Goodchild died in the tragedy.

The inquest considered the gravity, scope and complexity of the disaster.

Emergency procedures, what could have been done to prevent the accident, construction, upgrades, safety and staffing of the ride, were also considered.

The coronial inquiry also examined whether laws should be changed to stop a similar tragedy occurring in the future.

Queensland Emergency service personnel on scene at Dreamworld following the tragedy. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Queensland Emergency service personnel on scene at Dreamworld following the tragedy. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)


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