Dreamworld ride worker: "It couldn't have been foreseen"

A FORMER senior ride operator who had experience running the Thunder River Rapids ride, where four people were killed on Monday, has defended Dreamworld as the theme park faces heavy criticism.

In a post on his Facebook page, Drew Fraser explains that he worked at Dreamworld as an operator in 2002 and 2003, including stints with the Thunder River Rapids.

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He said until an investigation shows otherwise, he considers the tragedy a "freak accident" and struggles to believe the horror could have been foreseen or avoided.

"During 2002 & 2003, I worked on this #dreamworld ride as a senior ride operator.

"I find it hard to believe this freak accident could have been foreseen or avoided.

"My heart goes out the families affected, but also to the ride operators who were on deck when this happened.

"I pray they eventually find peace and release from any self-condemnation.

"Until proven otherwise, I don't see this as anyone's fault. After 30 years of operation, nothing like this has ever come close to occurring.

"I've even been operating the ride when it's needed a shutdown-restart due to water pump issues.

"The safety measures were always there.

"This is truly a tragedy that - in my opinion - just couldn't have been predicted."

 

 

Mr Fraser's Facebook post comes as Dreamworld owners come under sustained attack by the Australian Workers Union, which has claimed the owners ignored safety concerns and did not conduct appropriate maintenance.

Unverified media reports also suggest the person charged with operating the emergency stop button on the Thunder River Rapids was an 18-year-old on their first day of work.
 

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Mothers Kate Goodchild, 32, Cindy Low, 42, were both killed after a catastrophic malfunction tossed them from their raft and pinned them beneath.

Both Ms Goodchild and Ms Low had children in a separate raft who watched on as the tragedy unfolded.

Ms Goodchild's brother Luke Dorsett, 35, and partner Roozi Araghi, 38, were also killed.

Dreamworld management denies any allegations of wrongdoing, and in a statement on Thursday, confirmed the ride had passed "annual mechanical and structural safety engineering inspection" in late September.

Each ride is also tested every day before the park opens.

Dreamworld also emphasised that it had a "strong, open and transparent working relationship" with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

Dreamworld is scheduled to reopen on Friday for a memorial day paying tribute to the families, with all ticket prices being donated to charity.

Read Dreamworld's full statement below:

On Tuesday 25 October, a tragic incident occurred on the Dreamworld Thunder River Rapids ride that resulted in four fatalities. Dreamworld has reached out to the families through Queensland Police to offer its unwavering support.

Our deepest sympathies and heartfelt thoughts remain with the families and loved ones of the victims, the first responders on the scene, guests who were at the park and Dreamworld staff.

Park safety is our priority. Dreamworld would like to assure the public and park guests that at the time of the incident the park was fully compliant with all required safety certifications.

We can assure you, the entire Dreamworld team is committed to working closely with the investigating authorities on all matters of safety, process and procedures relating to the incident.

We support the Mayor and the Premier's sentiment that we can leave no stone unturned.

Safety of our guests, staff and wildlife is a core value of our business.

We welcomed almost 1.8million people to Dreamworld last financial year and prior to Tuesday there has never been a death at the park due to a ride incident, despite Dreamworld hosting more than 30million visitors since it opened in 1981.

This is largely due to our robust policies and procedures and our 1000 plus employees who are totally committed to guest services and guest safety.

The importance of safety is inherent in all our operations and decisions at every level of the business.

All our procedures and systems are constantly benchmarked against international best practice and ride manufacturer specifications.

Our rides and slides are checked and tested by our experienced team before the park opens every day.

If it's not tested, it doesn't open.

We then overlay this with strict operating and testing procedures like rotating staff to prevent fatigue and our unique lock-out tag-out system which prevents a ride from being operated inadvertently.

We also regularly invite local and international independent external ride safety auditors and Queensland Workplace Health and Safety representatives to scrutinise our engineering and safety systems against Australian and international standards, going well beyond our legal requirements.

For example, the Thunder River Rapids ride had successfully completed its annual mechanical and structural safety engineering inspection on 29 September 2016, just four weeks ago.

As per regulations, this safety audit was conducted by a specialist external engineering firm.

Details of this external audit will of course be provided to the Coroner and workplace safety investigators.

Furthermore, all ride operators are trained to specific competency standards: this is a park rule.

At all times throughout each year we diligently work with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, our regulator.

We have a strong, open and transparent working relationship with the regulator.

For all these reasons, Dreamworld is concerned about the timing and nature of recent AWU media comments.

We trust the information contained within this letter illustrates a history of operating a safe theme park in a more factual light.

The entire Dreamworld team is devastated and shocked by what occurred on Tuesday.

The Dreamworld team is absolutely committed to fully supporting the authorities investigating the incident so we can all find out exactly what has occurred.


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