Dreamworld disaster ‘nightmares’: Worker sues

 

A Dreamworld maintenance worker, who was traumatised after pulling bodies from water after the Thunder River Rapids ride tragedy, is suing the theme park owners.

Francoire de Villiers, 51, who still works at Dreamworld, says he has experienced flashbacks and nightmares since the 2016 disaster, which claimed the lives of four people.

Just after 2pm on October 25, 2016, Mr de Villiers, an electrician and maintenance technician, got an urgent call to go to a maintenance problem at the theme park.

A defective water pump that had repeatedly shut down in the hours before had caused water levels in the ride to lower, and a raft carrying four adults and two children had flipped.

Dreamworld electrician Francoire de Villiers leaves after giving evidence in the inquest into the Dreamworld disaster. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Dreamworld electrician Francoire de Villiers leaves after giving evidence in the inquest into the Dreamworld disaster. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)


While the children were able to get to safety, the four adults who were thrown into the water and ride mechanism were fatally injured.

Mr de Villiers came upon a gruesome scene and jumped into the water to try to help the victims, pulling bodies from the water, his Brisbane District Court claim says.

He attempted CPR on one woman, but her injuries were too severe.

"The scene witnessed by (Mr de Villiers) was extremely traumatic as the victims had been caught in the ride mechanism, causing horrific injuries," his claim said.

He could do nothing but assist in removing the lifeless and mutilated bodies of the victims from the water and raft, covering them from public view, it said.

Mr de Villiers's claim says he has continued to experience flashbacks and nightmares of the horrific scene and the screaming of distraught relatives and friends of the victims.

Police at Dreamworld the day after four people died on the Thunder River Rapids ride. Photo Steve Pohlner
Police at Dreamworld the day after four people died on the Thunder River Rapids ride. Photo Steve Pohlner


He claims he attended a call-out to reset the water pump about two hours prior to the tragedy, and recalls telling his supervisor of the pump shutting down and being reset.

Mr de Villiers claims he was not told that the water pump had been reset by a co-worker after his attendance or that the pump had frequently shut down and been reset in preceding days and hours.

His claim says he has suffered post traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder.

He has problems controlling his anger, he has suffered alcohol problems and has increased anxiety when attending social events or crowded or busy areas, it is alleged.

Nightmares and flashbacks can be triggered by smells, sounds and images similar to what he experienced.

Mr de Villiers claims to have struggled in his work at Dreamworld, because of continual reminders of the incident and has had to take time off on the anniversary of the tragedy.

A Dreamworld employee since 2014, he is seeking almost $303,000 in personal injury damages arising out of the Dreamworld tragedy.

He also is seeking almost $360,000 in personal injury damages as a result of suffering knee, elbow, hip and lower back injuries in a golf buggy crash at the theme park last year.

Dreamworld owner, Ardent Leisure, is yet to respond to the claim.

Originally published as Dreamworld disaster 'nightmares': Worker sues


From baseball to art: 8 fantastic things to do this weekend

Premium Content From baseball to art: 8 fantastic things to do this weekend

From astronomy in Casino to cooking in Ballina, there’s plenty to do this...

Track closure a ‘mark of respect’ after Olympian’s death

Premium Content Track closure a ‘mark of respect’ after Olympian’s death

A safety audit is being undertaken following a fatal crash

Businesses are looking away from China to bolster profits

Premium Content Businesses are looking away from China to bolster profits

Business NSW has welcomed focus on supporting diversity