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4 Dead in Rapids Ride Accident at Dreamworld Australia


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Wild West Falls at Movie World has Lap Bars and operations have always been really good. for a 7 minute ride with anywhere between 11 - 13 boats in circulation we would normally get about 600 per hour. For an Australian park that was pretty good, the constantly moving platform made things easier as we would only stop it for a guest that required assistance or if all the checks were not completed before a boat got to the end of the platform. I think my personal record as a loader in peak season and 15 boats on the ride was 850 riders with each boat having 8 riders. But that was when it was a full crew and making sure every row was constantly filled (off peak if it was a group of 4 riders we would let them have their own boat if they wanted and the line wasn't too big)

 

IMO if it's done properly like Wild West Falls was, Lap Bars really don't lower the capacity too much at all.

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  • 4 months later...

So the inquest into this horrible incident has started. A few observations from the first day:

 

1. Ride operators were unaware of an emergency stop button, which could have shut it down in two seconds (presumably one in the offload area). One member of staff was told 'not to worry' about it and that staff were confused by the ride's controls. The ride also did not have an emergency switch which would shut down the ride, with a second switch needing to be used to halt the ride’s conveyor belt

 

2. Dreamworld staff had raised concerns about the ride in 2001, after a similar incident involving a flipped raft (not sure if by similar they mean it was in the station area or not)

 

3. The pumps failed several times in the hours before the accident. Engineers reset the pump twice but its third failure prompted two rafts to collide, causing the accident

 

4. Two children were also ejected from the raft but survived (I didn't realise this)

 

5. The actual cause was that the water dropped below the guide rails so that the boats were no longer floating. There was no waterlevel sensor that would have stopped the ride automatically

 

6. There were multiple safety recommendations that an emergency stop button should be added to the control panel and CCTV cameras off the offload area installed, but neither of these were done

 

7. There had been a window of 57 seconds between the empty raft getting stuck on the conveyor and the collision which led to the tragedy

 

I suspect like other accidents this will be the usual story of cause and effect where one circumstance causes another, causes another etc (a bit like the Smiler accident). There are two more weeks of the inquest remaining.

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-44516243

https://www.news.com.au/national/queensland/news/dreamworld-inquest-first-day-of-investigation-into-thunder-river-rapids-deaths/news-story/3b350a8e379d7e39212590c6447458fe

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jun/18/deadly-dreamworld-rapids-ride-had-malfunction-history-inquest-told

 

Edited to add extra information from additional sources

Edited by KarlaKoaster
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1. Ride operators were unaware of an emergency stop button, which could have shut it down in two seconds (presumably one in the offload area)

Oof. That's the biggest one in my opinion, I feel like there has to be at least someone watching a set of cameras with their finger on the button at all times. Mechanical failures happen all the time, that's a given, but if the park didn't train the staff to deal with those failures, that's a huge problem.

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1. Ride operators were unaware of an emergency stop button, which could have shut it down in two seconds (presumably one in the offload area)

Oof. That's the biggest one in my opinion, I feel like there has to be at least someone watching a set of cameras with their finger on the button at all times. Mechanical failures happen all the time, that's a given, but if the park didn't train the staff to deal with those failures, that's a huge problem.

Yes, same. I edited my original post as I've found more information and it turns out there isn't a specific emergency stop button and that offload was not covered by CCTV despite several recommendations.

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Wow. Hard to believe no emergency stop in the modern era. No cameras is one thing, if personnel are able to monitor in person.

 

But neither cameras or people can do much w/o stop.

 

 

And there were recommendations to add such that went unheeded? That spells trouble (legal trouble).

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Yes, same. I edited my original post as I've found more information and it turns out there isn't a specific emergency stop button and that offload was not covered by CCTV despite several recommendations.

Yikes, that is (err...was) sketchy.

 

So let me get this straight here - when the pump failed the first time and they got it working again, did they not immediately cascade everyone off the ride, close the queue, and inspect it afterward? It sounds like when they reset the pump both times they just kept the ride going as if the problem never occurred.

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More from the inquest:

 

1. The operator says an almost identical fault happened the week before where the water pump failed, and water levels dropped to expose railings underneath the water. There was also a situation in 2001 where a 'pile up' of rafts occured

 

2. On the day of the accident he pressed the 'slow-stop' button 'two or three' times - this button takes 8 seconds to stop the ride (count to 8 in your head... it would seem like a lifetime in a situation like this)

 

3. The emergency button in the offload area (as I suspected it was) would have taken two seconds to stop the ride but was not pushed. Pushing this "wouldn’t have avoided (the tragedy), it may have limited some injuries"

 

4. The park had a policy where "if a ride breaks down more than twice, on the third time it gets shut for the day" (it was the third breakdown that the accident happened)

 

https://www.news.com.au/national/queensland/stop-button-pushed-after-crash-dreamworld-inquest-hears/news-story/2a91daf1119d33ef6da284a34a6413c5

 

So let me get this straight here - when the pump failed the first time and they got it working again, did they not immediately cascade everyone off the ride, close the queue, and inspect it afterward? It sounds like when they reset the pump both times they just kept the ride going as if the problem never occurred.

Honestly I'm not sure, none of the reports make it clear whether it was a simple reset while the ride was running (it was one pump of several), or whether they did a full shutdown. It was obviously a recurring fault though.

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Update from the inquest:

 

1. The families of the victims "don’t hold [the ride operator] in the least bit responsible for what happened on that day". The operator also said that he has not been criticised by Dreamworld for his actions.

 

2. The operator had to undertake 36 procedures every minute as passengers were loaded/unloaded from the ride. The victims' lawyer suggested this was an 'impossible' amount of responsibilities

 

3. More CCTV cameras were added to the park's log flume after a rider fell out and was hit by another log. Operators didn't realise this had happened until the boat had returned to the station

 

4. The operator wasn't trained in first aid or how to attend to incidents such as this

 

It's nice to hear the family don't hold the operator to account. Most of these operators are barely on more than minimum wage yet they make life-or-death decisions and are responsible for thousands of riders a day. It's a lot of weight on their shoulders and they probably don't even realise it.

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>>>The park had a policy where "if a ride breaks down more than twice, on the third time it gets shut for the day" (it was the third breakdown that the accident happened)<<<

 

To me an odd policy. Some “break downs” on some rides are innocuous, quickly resolved and not indicative of an emergency or even a trend. Fix, reset, test, restart.

 

Other rides when a fault occurres, of course depending on the nature of the fault, should be closed immediately, including the rest of the day until recrified. Often a root cause engineering analysis should be completed before returning the ride to service.

 

A blanket and blind policy of simply on the third issued shut it did for the day is extremely short sighted imo. It could lead to unnecessary closures but more importantly lead to rides staying open that should be closed because it hasn’t hit the daily trifecta.

 

Certainly a slippery slope. I don’t like it.

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A blanket and blind policy of simply on the third issued shut it did for the day is extremely short sighted imo.

 

Sounds like a policy to close problem prone rides instead of then constantly going down.

 

It's just to stop the displeasure of guests.

 

I would hope certain, safety related, faults would cause closure immediately.

Edited by TEDodd
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  • 2 years later...
The operator of Australia's Dreamworld theme park has been charged with safety breaches over a water ride malfunction that killed four people in 2016.

 

Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozbeh Araghi and Cindy Low died almost instantly when their raft collided with another and overturned, crushing them.

 

A coroner's inquiry later found there were "unfathomable" errors with safety at the park on Queensland's Gold Coast.

 

Authorities have filed three charges against parent company Ardent Leisure.

 

Each charge carries a maximum penalty of A$1.5m (£800,000; $1m) under Queensland's Workplace Health and Safety Act.

 

How did the accident happen?

The collision took place at the end of the Thunder River Rapids ride, an attraction that simulated the experience of white-water rafting.

 

The malfunction happened about 15 seconds after a pump stopped working and caused water levels to drop, the coroner was told in 2018.

 

Two children were also thrown from the raft but survived.

 

Coroner James McDougall found a "systemic failure by Dreamworld in relation to all aspects of safety", ruling the accident had been "only a matter of time".

 

What's been the reaction to the charges?

Prosecutor Aaron Guilfoyle said the three charges alleged that Dreamworld failed in its duty of care. They would be the only charges brought, he added.

 

Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said: "They are the maximum charges in the act, and the prosecutor is independent and we respect his decision and await the outcome from the courts."

 

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Ardent Leisure again expressed its "deepest sympathies" to the victims' loved ones.

 

"There has been considerable change at Dreamworld over the last few years as was acknowledged by the coroner in his report," the company said.

 

A court will hear the matter on 29 July.

 

What else happened after the tragedy?

Queensland introduced industrial manslaughter laws following the accident and other unrelated workplace deaths. They will not be applied retroactively.

 

Last year, police recommended that no Dreamworld employees should face criminal charges.

 

The park closed for six weeks after the accident, and the Thunder River Rapids ride was demolished. Other rides have shut since.

 

No relatives took the stand at the coroner's inquiry, but many tributes were paid to the victims after the accident.

 

Among them were Mr Araghi's brother, Simon, who described his sibling as an intelligent and "amazing kid".

 

Ms Low's mother-in-law, Dianne Bond, told the New Zealand Herald: "We lost the most wonderful daughter-in-law - she was far too young."

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https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/australian-park-owner-to-plead-guilty-after-4-die-on-ride/ar-BB17io3T

Australian park owner to plead guilty after 4 die on ride

...

Ardent’s lawyer Bruce Hodgkinson told a Gold Coast court on Wednesday that the Sydney-based company, which also owns assets in the United States and New Zealand, will plead guilty to all three charges. Each charge carried a potential maximum fine of 1.5 million Australian dollars ($1.1 million).

 

A sentencing hearing will begin on Sept. 28.

...

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  • 1 month later...
The operator of Australia's Dreamworld theme park has been fined A$3.6m (£2m; $2.5m) over the deaths of four people on a malfunctioning water ride.

Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozbeh Araghi and Cindy Low died in October 2016 when their raft crashed into another and overturned, crushing them.

Park operator Ardent Leisure admitted in July to breaching safety laws.

The company said it accepted responsibility and had worked to improve safety standards.

The four victims - all adults - died almost instantly after the Thunder River Rapids Ride rafts collided, an inquiry heard in 2018. Two children were also on board but survived.

The accident at Australia's biggest theme park was caused by a pump that malfunctioned near the end of the ride.

On Monday, a court said the company had failed in its duty of care and should have taken steps to make the ride safer.

"Steps were not that complex or burdensome and only mildly inconvenient and really were inexpensive," Magistrate Pamela Dowse said.

"They operated the most iconic amusement park in the country, which targeted and attracted families.

"There was complete and blind trust placed in the defendant by every guest who rode the Thunder River Rapids Ride."

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The raft carrying passengers flipped in the collision

The size of the fine reflected the severity of the company's failure, she added. Ardent had been facing a maximum A$4.5m fine.

Chief executive John Osborne said: "Ardent accepts responsibility for this tragedy, and we fully accept the consequences."

Families of the victims also delivered statements to the sentencing court on Monday, expressing grief and anger over their loss.

Australia theme park admits guilt over ride deaths

"That Cindy died violently is unacceptable to us," said Helen Cook, aunt to Ms Low. "Knowing her death could have been avoided is unacceptable and infuriating."

In February, a coroner found the accident had been "only a matter of time" as the theme park had not properly assessed the ride's safety risk in over 30 years.

Dreamworld briefly shut down for six weeks after the accident in 2016, during which it demolished the ride.

The company has reported operating losses every year since the accident, including more than A$260m in losses in its theme park division.

It is also fighting a class action from shareholders who claim the company misled them on the park's safety measures.

The accident also prompted Queensland to introduce an industrial manslaughter offence in 2017. It cannot be applied retroactively.

Source

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