The coronial inquest into the tragic incident at Dreamworld in October 2016 that resulted in the deaths of four people has heard that the ride was given a $19,000 safety upgrade eight months beforehand.
The works did not include an update to the ride’s water level detection systems, and it has been previously confirmed the deaths were a result of a water pump failure flipping a raft onto the ride’s conveyor belt near the drop-off zone.
Resuming for the inquest’s second week of hearings, Gavin Dunwoodie – managing director for contractor company Products For Industry – has told the inquest that Dreamworld contracted them to carry out safety upgrades on the Thunder River Rapids Ride in early 2016. It was the first time that Products For Industry had worked on that specific ride.
The inquest heard on Monday morning that contracted upgrades to the Thunder River Rapids Ride included work on the emergency stop button at the unload area – which apparently malfunctioned at the time of the incident – and a system at the base of the conveyor that monitored the part of the conveyor where rafts were taken back to the unload area, which would activate a killswitch if a predicted raft did not automatically load onto the conveyor.
The 2016 incident occurred at the other end of the conveyor, where there were no water level sensors installed.
Automated machines engineer, Matthew Sullivan, also confirmed that further works were scheduled to be carried out on the Thunder River Rapids Ride – including planned works on water pumping systems.
As reported by the Brisbane Times, an expert investigation into the incident that killed Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low found that the installation of sensors that measured water levels in the ride’s system could have prevented the accident.
Investigator George Rutherford produced a report concluding that the incident could have been easily avoided if sensors had been installed.
In conclusion – in my opinion- the primary cause of the tragic incident was the lack of a suitable safety-related water-level detection system interfaced to the upgraded conveyor system,
…Such a safety system could easily have been provided and at a minimal cost.
Products For Industry has worked extensively on many rides across the theme parks on the Gold Coast, and installed water level detection sensors on the park’s Log Ride in 2013, Dunwoodie confirmed to the inquest hearing.