Dreamworld Deaths – Who is Responsible? – Criminal Lawyers Case File

Tragically, in 2016 a malfunction in the popular Thunder Rapids Ride at Dreamworld caused a tube to flip and resulted in the deaths of four people. It shocked households across Australia, as well as across the world because so many were familiar with and loved this ride.

Emergency services were called to the horrific scene at 2:30 pm on October 25, 2016, after a six-person raft collided with an empty vessel and flipped backwards. Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi were killed instantly. Two children on board managed to escape.

It is believed that the group had almost completed the white water rafting ride without incident when one of two large pumps feeding the ride failed. Within seconds the water levels plummeted and a raft in front of the victims’ vessel was left stranded on a conveyor belt. The group was thrown from the ride when the two rafts collided and it is believed that the four deceased were caught in the mechanism of the ride and were either trapped in the raft or ejected into the water beneath the conveyor. Each died almost instantly as a result of compressive and crushing injuries.

Since the fatalities, the Queensland Government has passed industrial manslaughter laws, which mean corporations can be held accountable for deaths on site but they will not apply in this case, as they’re not retrospective.

The Purpose of An Inquest

Nobody has ever been charged with any criminal offences, nor has anybody ever brought legal action against Dreamworld. So what’s the purpose of an inquest? An inquest is a court hearing conducted by the ‘coroner’ to gather information about the cause and circumstances of a death. An inquest isn’t a trial and there is no jury. It’s not about deciding whether a person is guilty of an offence or civilly liable.

Inquests are less formal than conventional court hearings and the coroner can inform themselves in any way they consider appropriate. Although the rules of evidence don’t apply, the coroner must conduct proceedings fairly. The coroner hears evidence on oath from people who have information about the death, including police officers, family members, doctors, other experts, eyewitnesses or the public.

If there is an inquest, coroners can make recommendations about matters connected with the death—such as public health and safety matters or the administration of justice—to prevent similar deaths in the future.

The Stages of the Dreamworld Inquest

On Monday 18 June 2018 the inquest into the Dreamworld tragedy commenced in the Southport Magistrates Court. QLD. At the time of writing, it is expected to take two weeks. It was proposed the inquest be held in two parts. 

The first will investigate the construction, maintenance, safety, history and modifications made to the ride. It will also examine the emergency services response on the day of the incident in October and the training of Dreamworld staff. The second part of the inquest will look at laws around theme park operations and whether changes need to be made and further safety measures introduced.

Following the inquest, the coroner will release a report with a list of findings (what they believed caused or contributed to the deaths) and recommendations (how similar tragedies can be avoided in the future).

With dedicated offices in Brisbane and Inala, Cridland & Hua handles the entire gamut of criminal matters, including violent offences (such as murder and manslaughter) drug offences, property and sexual offences, as well as all traffic matters, such as drink, drug and unlicensed driving. To begin the process of acquiring counsel, contact us today. 


Back to all articles