On the second day of the coronial inquest into the malfunction of Dreamworld‘s Thunder River Rapids ride – which killed four people in October 2016 – a ride operator has said that he pressed the stop button “two or three” times when he noticed the rafts were too close to each other, but the ride did not stop immediately.
The Courier-Mail reports that Peter Nemeth, the first of the ride’s operators to give evidence, said that after he pressed the red stop conveyor button, and saw the raft carrying victims, Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low capsize, he called the park’s emergency code, 222, which drew staff from across the park to assist.
He had started to operate the ride about an hour before the tragic accident, when he was warned by his supervisor that the water pump had failed twice that day, and told that if problems continued Dreamworld would close the ride.
Nemeth had noticed the water level dropping as the rafts moved along the conveyor, with five to ten metres between them. The first became stranded on the rails as the water level dropped, with the second continuing to move towards the stuck raft – it was then that the operator pressed the stop conveyor button.
“I pressed it to make sure that it stopped,” he said. “It did not stop even though I pushed it two or three times. It did stop after the rafts had collided.“
Earlier today, Senior Constable Steven Cornish said that if an emergency stop button had been pressed earlier it “may have limited some injuries“.
One such button, located at the unloading dock – which was manned by another operator who had only been trained on the Thunder River Rapids ride that same day – could stop the conveyor in two seconds. The button pressed by Nemeth was the slow-stop button on the main control panel, which is supposed to stop the ride in eight seconds. Nemeth said at the inquest that he was not aware of the faster button.
Yesterday, on the inquest’s first day, Detective Sergeant Nicola Brown said the two-second emergency stop button was unmarked, and staff had been advised “not to worry about it“.
The inquest will continue over the next fortnight.
More Stuff From PEDESTRIAN.TV
Image: Getty Images / Jono Searle