Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, brother Luke Dorsett and partner Roozi Araghi were killed when a water pump on the ride malfunctioned, causing the water level to drop dangerously.
Two children – Ebony Turner and Kieran Low, then aged 10 and 12 – escaped without physical injury.
The tragedy unfolded when their raft collided three times with another that had run aground on the conveyor belt in low water on October 25, 2016.
Occupational health and safety attorney Aaron Guilfoyle told Southport court on Monday that the stranded raft was lifted vertically before falling to a horizontal position.The continuous movement of the conveyor drove the condemned raft into the mechanism.
“He tore pieces of fiberglass from the raft which shook violently, knocking down Ms Goodchild and Mr Dorsett,” Guilfoyle said.
“Ms. Turner was suspended in her seat by the Velcro seat belt and Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low sitting in the back of the raft were pulled into the moving components.
Guilfoyle told the court that while the failure of the pump was the direct cause of the crash, there were other factors to consider.
He described a litany of failures to adequately guarantee the safe ride, including poor maintenance and inadequate shutdown procedures.
Previous safety audits have found that a water level safety sensor that could have prevented the crash would have cost less than $ 3,000.
The company also failed to provide the information, training, instruction or supervision necessary to protect people from risks.
The pump malfunction was the third that day and the fifth in a week, and no automatic shut-off feature was installed despite recommendations.
“The merry-go-round had been in operation for 30 years, the pumps were doomed at one point,” he said.
“There have been failures in implementing control measures that would have minimized or eliminated the risk under the circumstances of a pump failure.
“They are as much the cause as the failure of the pump.”
Kim Dorsett, the mother of Dorsett and Goodchild, was in sentencing court, first joined by Turner, Goodchild’s daughter.
In a moving statement, Dorsett fought back through tears, saying she was crying “for my lost children every day”.
To this day, she said she was haunted by Ebony’s words.
“’I couldn’t find mom’ – those words have turned into recurring nightmarish words that will stay with me until my last breath.
“I have never been so lonely and isolated as I have become in grief.”
Dorsett said every day that she woke up she was disappointed.
“I must have another day in this hell.
“A broken heart has no words.”
Ardent’s senior attorney, Bruce Hodgkinson, opened briefs with an apology to families and all those affected by the 2016 tragedy.
He told the court that the security and training of staff in the park had been completely overhauled.
“Ardent and Dreamworld have frequently engaged with the regulator with unwavering cooperation,” Hodgkinson told the court.
“He has accepted responsibility for this tragedy and has taken important steps to improve safety throughout the park.”
Magistrate Pam Dowse said the company failed in its primary duty of safety to the public.
She concluded that the company was aware of the risk of pump failure and the risk of the rafts tipping over before the accident.
“Total and blind trust [was] placed in the accused by every person who traveled the Thunder River Rapids route and those guests were extremely vulnerable, ”Dowse said.