A series of equipment failures before the tragic accident that killed four people at Dreamworld should have raised red flags and been investigated, the manager of engineering says.
Chris Deaves, who joined the theme park in 2012, told an inquest into the deaths that there were multiple breakdowns in the lead up to the tragedy in 2016.
He said malfunctions on October 19, 22, 23 and twice on the morning of the October 25 – the day of the accident which killed Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi – should have been investigated.
They died when a water pump on the Thunder River Rapids ride malfunctioned, resulting in two rafts colliding and flipping.
Mr Deaves said the water pump was not considered a “critical” piece of equipment to the function of the ride and may have explained why the issue not escalated.
“Over the years, the pump outages were commonplace,” he said.
When asked if staff were actively searching for potential hazards on theme park rides, Mr Deaves said they were not and admitted his department may have been understaffed.
“Predominantly our department are tradesmen, so the work would come in and we’d say ‘alright, we need to fix that in that amount of time’,” he said.
“We didn’t have a tool that could steer you in that direction to go out and look for hazards. We just couldn’t all walk out and say we’re going to discover some hazards today.”
Mr Deaves confirmed that to his knowledge, the theme park did not have instructions or a plan of maintenance from the manufacturer of the rapids ride and staff had created their own maintenance regime, which he said had not been assessed by an engineer.
Earlier on Tuesday, a former senior official at Dreamworld parent company Ardent Leisure apologised to the family of the victims as he completed his testimony.
Former safety manager Angus Hutchings said he was dreadfully sorry for their loss.
“I would like to offer the families of victims a genuine and heartfelt apology of the indescribable suffering you have experienced,” he said.
Mr Hutchings was questioned about a report into an incident in 2001, in which one of the rafts flipped during a dry run of the attraction.
He became aware of it after the tragedy.
He said the report that concluded the accident was a “one off” and could not happen again was flawed and did not take into account human error.
Asked what he would have done to investigate the incident, Mr Hutchings said he would have ordered a full audit.
The inquest into Australia’s worst theme park disaster resumed on the Gold Coast this week for two weeks of hearings following sittings in October and June.