Staff at Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld pushed a stop button on a ride after two rafts had already collided, a Queensland inquest has been told.
Sydney-based mother Cindy Low and Canberra visitors Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi all died instantly after being thrown from a raft when the Thunder River Rapids ride malfunctioned in October 2016.
On Tuesday, a forensic crash investigator told a packed Southport Coroners Court the rafts had collided and two passengers had already been flung from the raft by the time a stop button was pushed on the main control panel.
An emergency stop panel at the nearby unloading dock, which would have stopped the raft conveyor belt in just two seconds, wasn’t pushed at all, the inquest heard.
Senior Constable Steven Cornish said that emergency button could have lessened the likelihood of death, even if it was pushed after the collision.
“It wouldn’t have avoided [the tragedy], it may have limited some injuries. Possibly,” Senior Constable Cornish said.
The inquest had already heard testimony from lead police investigator Detective Sergeant Nicola Brown that a ride operator panicked during the tragedy and “wasn’t sure at the moment of stress which button to press”.
Senior Constable Cornish also said a Dreamworld investigation into a similar incident on the ride in 2001, where a raft flipped after colliding with another raft during a dry run without guests on board, had not taken the human element of operators into account.
The investigation concluded the raft flipped because the ride operator had been distracted and said there was “zero chance” of a similar accident occurring with guests on board.
“The entire ride is relying on the operators of the ride,” he said.
“There is no automated safety. It’s relying on human intervention.”
Ride operators from Dreamworld are expected to provide evidence later on Tuesday.