Dreamworld inquest: Courtney Williams 'went into emergency mode' after ride incident
A ride operator in her second week on the job has been revealed as the hero who helped save a child's life on the day of the Dreamworld tragedy.
Courtney Williamson was operating the Thunder River rapids ride when four people were thrown from a raft to their deaths in October 2016.
Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi all died instantly when the ride malfunctioned.
The long-awaited inquest into their deaths began yesterday, with Dreamworld staff expected to give evidence today.
Senior police investigator, Detective Sergeant Nicola Brown, told Coroner James McDougall that Ms Williams had only been operating the Thunder River ride for a week.
But she was a competent ride attendant who had worked at the Gold Coast theme park for two years and had a level two operator qualification.
Det. Sgt Brown said Ms Williams rushed into "emergency mode" to help Mrs Low's son Kieran and Ms Goodchild's daughter Ebony, who had been thrown cleared of the raft.
“Once the incident had unfolded, (Courtney) went into emergency mode and assisted everyone she could, including Kieran out of the ride,” Det Sgt Brown said told counsel assisting the Coroner, Ken Fleming.
The inquest will resume with police forensic crash investigator Senior Constable Steven Cornish continuing to give evidence, followed by the Dreamworld staff.
Snr. Const Cornish told the inquest the ride lacked automatic safety features such as a water level sensor which would have prevented the tragedy.
He said the correct application of an emergency shutdown button at any time from the failure of a water pump until the rafts collided would have also ensured no loss of life.
The inquest had earlier heard the water pump had failed twice on the day of the tragedy, and there had been multiple previous incidents involving rafts colliding on the 30-year-old ride since 2001.
"The potential for that to happen was always there," Sen. Const Cornish told the inquest.
"It was evident by the testing we did the rafts could become inverted."
In 2001, several empty rafts collided and some flipped over when a ride operator was distracted talking to guests who were waiting to get onto the attraction.
An email between staff following the incident in 2001 read "I shudder when I think if there had been guests on the ride", the opening day of the inquest heard.
In 2004, two rafts collided, sending a guest into a water-filled trough. The guest was rescued without injury.
In August 2005, police also discovered three rafts had collided when they went up the conveyor belt at the same time.
Det Sgt Brown said multiple safety recommendations following those incidents were not implemented, including the installation of automatic sensors to detect falling water levels or a simple single total shutdown switch on the main control panel.
She said the main control panel for the ride was confusing and a ride operator at the time of the incident "wasn't sure which button to press" under the stress of the situation.
Forensic crash investigator Senior Constable Steven Cornish said the ride lacked automatic safety features which would have prevented the tragedy.
He dismissed a suggestion the accident had been an unforeseeable chain of events despite police being unable to recreate the exact scenario in more than 20 tests of the ride.
"The potential for that to happen was always there," Snr Cnst Cornish said.
The inquest heard a memo sent to Dreamworld staff days before the tragedy warned an emergency stop button near the unloading dock of the ride wasn't to be pushed unless in certain circumstances.
Barrister Steven Whybrow, representing Ms Goodchild and Mr Dorsett, said the ride operator at the unloading dock hadn't been aware of the function of the emergency button and other staff had told her "not to worry about that button, no one uses it".
Several family members of the victims were in the gallery including Ms Goodchild's father and mother, her husband Dave Turner and Ms Low's husband Matthew.