Dreamworld has cancelled plans to reopen on Friday due to a police investigation into a tragedy that killed four people on the Thunder River Rapids ride on Tuesday.
The Gold Coast theme park had announced on Wednesday evening it would reopen to hold a memorial service for the victims, staff and emergency services involved in the response to the accident.
The park planned to open some of its small rides, animal attractions and water park, with all entry proceeds going to the Red Cross.
But in a statement on Thursday afternoon, the Gold Coast theme park said the integrity of the coronial investigation was “of paramount importance”.
“Postponing the service will give the Queensland Police Service the time it needs to conduct this investigation,” the park said.
It’s unknown at this stage when the park will reopen with Dreamworld saying in a statement they would provide an update on Monday.
Public servants Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozbeh Araghi were killed alongside 42-year-old Cindy Low when the ride malfunctioned on Tuesday.
The announcement came hours after Ardent Leisure CEO Deborah Thomas admitted in a media conference that she hadn’t spoken to the families of the victims.
However later on Thursday Ms Thomas announced she will donate her controversial – and entire – $167,500 cash bonus to the Red Cross.
“Red Cross will ensure 100 per cent is directed to support people affected by this tragic event,” the statement read.
Still a crime scene
Earlier on Thursday, Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd said the area where the tragedy occurred was still subject to a crime scene warrant under the provisions of the Coroner’s Act.
“At present we are in discussions and we’ll continue to be in discussions with Dreamworld personnel about our requirements there,” he said.
“We’re working as fast as we can, but we are not going to compromise the need for thoroughness in order for us to be able to vacate that area, acquire the evidence, or the facts that we need.”
‘Kate died in his arms’: mum tells of tragedy
Meanwhile, Ms Goodchild’s mother-in-law has recounted how her son held his childhood sweetheart in his arms as she died.
Gillian Turner says her son, David Goodchild, reached his childhood sweetheart Ms Goodchild immediately after the deadly malfunction.
“My son managed to reach his partner … who died in his arms while his 12-year-old daughter looked on screaming in the background,” Ms Turner said in a statement to reporters in Canberra.
“I would like to believe that my 12-year-old granddaughter was saved so she could tell her little sister what a wonderful mum Kate was.
“We’re all numb. We’re all in shock.”
Ms Turner’s granddaughter was aboard the same raft as Kate Goodchild, but managed to escape after it flipped and killed four passengers due to a conveyor belt malfunction.
Floral tributes grow outside Dreamworld
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk laid flowers outside the park on Thursday where many other floral tributes have been placed.
“To the families of those who have lost loved ones, I extend my deepest sympathies on behalf of the people of Queensland, for your loss during this very difficult time,” she said.
“Look at this sea of flowers …. this has touched so many people not just in Queensland but throughout the rest of the nation.”
Earlier, Ms Palaszczuk told Channel 7 she had spoken to the police commissioner about how long officers needed undisturbed access.
“The Dreamworld tragedy is being investigated by the coroner and there are over 30 detectives down there on site as well and that will remain a crime scene I understand … for a few more days to come,” she said.
Dreamworld hit back at critics on Wednesday, asserting all ride safety certifications were in place when a raft on the Thunder River Rapids ride overturned, killing four people.
But the Australian Workers Union (AWU) accused Dreamworld of organisational arrogance after it raised serious safety concerns with the theme park 18 months ago.
Meanwhile, representatives of Dreamworld’s parent company, Ardent Leisure, have faced fierce questions from the media today over the deadly ride incident, including accusations they had not yet contacted the victims’ families directly.