The long-awaited coronial inquest into the deaths of four people who were killed when a ride malfunctioned at Dreamworld will get underway this week, although it’s not expected to hear any evidence until later in the year.
Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi, along with Sydney woman Cindy Low, were killed when the popular Thunder River Rapids ride malfunctioned in October 2016.
Ms Goodchild’s 12-year-old daughter Ebony and Ms Low’s 10-year-old son were on the raft that flipped at the end of the ride, but survived.
The boy was thrown from the raft in what police described at the time as a “near miracle”.
For nearly 30 years the ride had been a major attraction of the theme park but Dreamworld closed for 45 days after the accident.
Visitor numbers tanked an estimated 30 per cent and owners Ardent Leisure reported a $62.6 million loss for the financial year.
The incident also caused the Queensland government to pass industrial manslaughter laws with maximum 20 years imprisonment for individuals or a $10 million fine corporate offenders.
The new legislation won’t apply to anyone involved in the Dreamworld tragedy as it can’t be enforced retrospectively.
Police have investigated the fatal mishap and have prepared a large brief of evidence for the coroner to consider.
They have already recommended no criminal charges be laid against Dreamworld staff over the fatal incident, but the coroner could still suggest prosecutions after hearing evidence.
The families have waited a long time for answers and on Tuesday the inquest will take its first steps.
During the procedural hearing no evidence is expected but dates for the anticipated inquest hearings are likely to be set.
Deborah Thomas, the former Ardent boss who was involved in the company’s dealings with bereaved families, will be paid $3000 a day to attend the inquest.
She stepped down following her handling of the fallout of the tragedy and was due to receive a payout of more than $730,000.