Dreamworld operating company Ardent Leisure has entered a plea of guilty on three safety charges related to the horrific 2016 Thunder River Rapids incident that claimed the lives of four people.

Ardent Leisure had previously been charged with three counts of Failure to Comply with Health and Safety Duty under the Queensland Health and Safety Act; failures in duty that the charges allege put park guests at risk of serious injury or death.

The horrific incident occurred on July on the Thunder River Rapids ride claimed the lives of four people – Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, and Roozi Araghi – after the raft they were riding in collided with another raft and flipped, either ejecting them from the ride or trapping them beneath a mechanised conveyor belt. Two children, aged 10 and 12 at the time, were also on board the raft but managed to escape. Emergency services personnel reportedly required counselling after attending the scene due to its distressing nature.

After charges were initially announced on July 21, Ardent management issued a statement expressing sympathy to the families affected, and asserted “There has been considerable change at Dreamworld over the last few years as was acknowledged by the coroner in his report.”

“Dreamworld has taken substantive and proactive steps to improve safety across the entire park and continues to enhance existing systems and practices, as well as adopt new ones, as we develop and implement our safety case in accordance with the Queensland Government’s new major amusement park safety regulations,” the statement claimed.

Each individual charge carries a maximum penalty of $1.5 million, meaning the company could be facing a $4.5 million total fine over the tragedy.

Representatives for the prosecution declined to issue comment. The matter has been adjourned until September 28th.

Image: Getty Images / Jason O'Brien