Thunder River Rapids tragedy felt 'Australia-wide', first day of inquest hears
An inquest into the Dreamworld tragedy in which four people were killed on a family-friendly ride has heard the deaths were “violent and unnatural”.
Counsel assisting the coroner Ken Fleming QC was the first to address the court for his opening statement, saying “the tragedy of this event has been felt Australia-wide, non more so then the families of those that were taken that day.”
Lawyers for the victims Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi packed the small Southport court room, while media were asked to sit in an overflow court and listen to the proceedings.
Family members of the family have also attended the first day of proceedings.
The group was killed when the Thunder River Rapids malfunctioned in October 2016. All died instantly from compressive and crushing injuries while Ms Goodchild's 12-year-old daughter and Ms Low's 10-year-old son both survived.
Today the court heard the circumstances leading up to the tragedy will be considered as well as “event history of the ride operation, safety measures in place, training of staff charged to operate it and modifications that have been made for the ride”.
In total 37 witnesses will be called during the inquest which will run for four weeks.
It will be adjourned after two weeks and will be resumed later this year for a further two weeks.
Deamworld was forced to shut down for a month, decommissioning the ride and closing off the area where it stood.
It also led to Ardent chief executive Deborah Thomas standing down in April 2017, before Dreamworld reported a $62.6 million loss for the financial year.
Coroner James McDougall will also look at the sufficiency of the training provided to staff in operating the ride and how to prevent a similar incident from occurring.
Several hearings have already been held before today’s inquest, all attended by lawyers for the four victims, Dreamworld chief executive Craig Davidson, Ardent Leisure and the Office of Industrial Relations.
Among the first witnesses to give evidence are set to be police, including principal investigator Detective Sergeant Nicola Brown and Detective Inspector Mark Thompson.
Ardent Leisure said it would cooperate throughout the inquest.
"This will be a difficult time for many, our hearts and thoughts remain with the families and all those affected by the tragedy," the company said in a statement.
Late last year, Kim Dorsett, mother of Ms Goodchild and Mr Dorsett, said the 12 months on from the incident had been filled with tears and disbelief, where even "getting out of bed can be a major achievement".