Dreamworld staffer couldn't stop tragedy
One of Dreamworld's "top" operators has described how in vain he desperately pressed a stop button two or three times on a malfunctioning ride that killed four people.
Park employee Peter Nemeth told an inquest that after noticing a raft on a collision course with a stranded empty raft on the Thunder River Rapids ride he'd pushed a button on the main control panel to stop the ride's conveyor belt.
To Mr Nemeth's surprise the conveyor did not stop until after the rafts had collided and the one carrying the guests had lifted vertical, throwing the victims into the ride's machinery.
"It did not stop even though I pressed it two or three times," Mr Nemeth told the second day of an inquest into the October 2016 deaths of Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi.
Mr Nemeth was the main ride operator of the 30-year-old attraction when the accident occurred.
A police investigation into the accident discovered the conveyor would take approximately nine seconds to completely stop after the button was pushed, a fact Mr Nemeth - who told the inquest he was among the "top 10" ride operators in the park at the time - did not know until it was revealed to him on Tuesday.
"I am surprised to learn that," Mr Nemeth said.
"I assumed the conveyor stop button would stop the ride instantly."
An emergency stop button outside the main control area would have stopped the conveyor in two seconds, but it was never pressed by either Mr Nemeth or his colleague Courtney Williams.
Forensic crash investigator Senior Constable Steven Cornish earlier told the inquest if the emergency button had been pushed the tragedy could have been avoided.
Even if it had been pushed after the rafts collided the risk of death would have been lessened, he said.
"It wouldn't have avoided (the tragedy), it may have limited some injuries. Possibly," Sen Const Cornish said.
The inquest was told Mr Nemeth had at least two hours and 15 minutes of training on the Thunder River Rapids since August 2015, while Ms Williams had only been trained on the morning of the tragedy.
Mr Nemeth, who now works for Dreamworld's sister park WhiteWater World, said Thunder River Rapids was the "most stressful" to operate of all the park's rides.
Multiple factors such as noise, queue lines, looking out for issues with the water pumps and keeping an eye on the number two operator made it difficult, he said.
He agreed if some functions could have been engineered to be handled automatically it would have made an operator's job easier.
Snr Const Cornish said the ride was reliant on human intervention and had a lack of automatic sensors and aids to ensure a shut down in case of malfunction.
The inquest has already heard the ride's water pump had already failed twice on the day of the tragedy and Mr Nemeth revealed a supervisor had told him it would be shut down for the day if it failed again.
Sen Const Cornish also revealed Ms Goodchild's 12-year-old daughter and Ms Low's 10-year-old son, who survived the accident, had actually remained in the raft and not been thrown clear as had been previously assumed.
The inquest will resume on Wednesday with Mr Nemeth to continue to give evidence and Ms Williams also expected to enter the witness box.
© AAP 2018