Ardent Leisure may face prosecution over fatal accident at Dreamworld

Ardent Leisure could be fined up to $3 million if it is prosecuted and found criminally liable over the fatal accident at Dreamworld that killed four people in 2016.

At an inquest into the deaths of Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi, the coroner found Dreamworld had a “systemic failure” in all safety aspects.

Ardent Leisure has been referred to the Office of Industrial Relations by coroner James McDougall where the maximum penalty for a serious Workplace Health and Safety breach is up to $3 million.

The inquest revealed a series of safety failures at the theme park dating back decades that included “shoddy” record keeping and “rudimentary” safety systems.

The four victims were killed when their raft on the Thunder River Rapids Ride collided with an empty vessel and flipped.  The accident occurred when a water pump feeding the ride broke down, causing water levels to suddenly drop.

McDougall said there was no evidence a thorough risk assessment of the ride was ever done and that an accident happening “was simply a matter of time”.

He also noted a that the ride operators had been given a “significant and unfair burden” to observe and respond to situations.

“Such a culpable culture can exist only when leadership from the board down are careless in respect of safety,” McDougall said.

Ardent Leisure’s chairman Gary Weiss said the company was committed to making safety the number one priority.

“The coroner’s report does not mark the beginning of change at Dreamworld, but rather represents a very important milestone in a continuous improvement journey for safety at Dreamworld that is ongoing,” he said.

“They are proactively focused on continuous improvements to safety across the park, in the areas of ride safety and reliability, training of ride operators, emergency management procedures, safety management systems and safety governance.”