Details of the triple-0 call made by Dreamworld staff to emergency services moments after a ride malfunctioned, killing four people, have been revealed for the first time at an inquest into the deaths.
“We have one patient totally unconscious turning blue,” Dreamworld control room operator Nigel Irwin told a Queensland Ambulance Service call-taker, after the Thunder River Rapids ride malfunctioned.
The deaths of Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett and Roozi Araghi are under examination in a Queensland coronial inquest after the group were killed instantly when their raft collided with an empty vessel and flipped backwards in 2016.
A transcript of Mr Irwin’s conversation with emergency services was played to the court on Tuesday afternoon.
“We have somebody trapped in the machinery,” Mr Irwin said.
“OK. So, there’s two people?” the call taker replied.
“At least … The whole raft has emptied up into the water,” Mr Irwin said.
“We may obviously need more than one [ambulance] I dare say.”
The rest of the transcript was not shown to the inquest, due to concerns about distress it would cause family members of the victims.
Ride declared safe without full audit
Earlier, the inquest on the Gold Coast heard the ride was declared “mechanically and structurally safe” eight days before the accident.
The inquest was also shown photos of a similar incident that occurred 15 years earlier and a near-miss from 2014.
It comes as four former staffers prepare to launch legal action against the park after suffering “severe psychological injuries” while dealing with the incident.
The inquest was shown an annual inspection certificate of the ride, which was issued by third-party engineer Thomas Polley.
Mr Polley declared the ride as structurally sound and properly functioning, even though he did not complete a full safety audit and only did a “visual inspection”.
The court was also shown photos from an incident in 2001 when a number of empty rafts flipped over and were damaged, and CCTV footage of a 2014 near-miss, when two rafts with people in them ran into each other at the top of the conveyer belt.
No one was injured in the 2014 incident, however, ride operator Stephen Buss was sacked.
During questioning, Dreamworld junior engineer Gen Cruz said he was not made aware of either the 2001 or 2014 incident until after the 2016 tragedy.
Toby Nielsen, the barrister representing the Araghi family, suggested the theme park had a a “culture of secrecy” when there were incidents with rides.
He asked Mr Cruz if he agreed.
After a long pause, Mr Cruz softly replied “No”.
Mr Cruz also said he believed he was the only engineer employed at Dreamworld in 2016, but he did not know whose responsibility it was to identify the cause of a problem after any incidents on a ride.
So far the inquest into the deaths has heard widespread failures meant safety issues on the ride were not identified.
Dreamworld staff to sue theme park
Dreamworld staff who were the first responders at the Thunder River Rapids ride tragedy are suing the theme park for the psychological trauma they suffered in the wake of 2016 incident.
Safety officers John Clark, Shane Green and Rebecca Ramsey, along with engineer Paul Burke, will file a statement of claim against their former employer for “significant psychological injuries”.
Shine Lawyers solicitor Tina Ibraheem said the former staff members were undergoing counselling, but their trauma would stay with them for the rest of their lives.
“They’re reminded every single day of what they’ve seen. They cannot unsee it.”
Ms Ibraheem said it was too early to determine when the claim would be lodged and how much compensation the former employees would be seeking.
On Monday the court heard some ride repairs were delayed for budgetary reasons and Dreamworld’s safety guidelines had warned of the potential for rafts to tip.
The Thunder River Rapids ride had already broken down twice on the day of the fatal raft collision.
A fortnight of hearings were also held in June with evidence of operator confusion, unclear emergency plans and an under-resourced safety unit.