Moment Dreamworld workers realised horror
SHE'D received no specific emergency training, but when a raft containing six people inverted on a ride at Dreamworld, young staff member Courtney Williams leapt into action.
Ms Williams, who'd received 90 minutes of training before starting her first shift as a load operator on the Thunder River Rapids ride in October 2016, immediately comforted a young boy who'd escaped the raft.
Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi all died in the tragedy when they were thrown from the raft into the ride's conveyor belt.
Ms Low's 10-year-old son was the boy comforted and then helped from the attraction by Ms Williams, while Ms Goodchild's 12-year-old daughter also survived the tragedy.
At an inquest at the Southport Coroners Court on Wednesday, Ms Williams described the build-up to the tragedy.
Believing the ride had malfunctioned when she was unable to open a gate to release a raft into the unloading area, she'd attempted to get the attention of main ride operator Peter Nemeth.
When Mr Nemeth did look her way, she said his face "completely dropped" when he saw the raft containing the six people about to collide with a raft that had become stranded on the conveyor belt due to dramatically lowered water levels following a pump failure.
"I heard noises behind me like loud talking and that's when I knew the raft was coming down (the conveyor)," Ms Williams said.
"(Mr Nemeth) didn't react … I looked back and saw the incident unfold and then I went into action."
Ms Williams said during her training she'd been told not to "worry about" an emergency stop button for the ride, nor did she fully understand what that button and other stop buttons actually did.
She believed the ride would have shut down automatically if the pumps failed and she felt she'd been inadequately prepared for the tragedy.
"I didn't feel I had sufficient training on parts I now know I should have," she said.
Mr Nemeth was the main ride operator of the 30-year-old attraction when the accident occurred.
He said after noticing the raft with the visitors on a collision course with a stranded empty raft following a water pump failure, 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 containing the guests had lifted into a vertical position, throwing the victims into the ride's machinery.
"It did not stop even though I pressed it two or three times," Mr Nemeth said on Tuesday. 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 near the unload dock would have stopped the conveyor in just two seconds, but it was never pressed by either Mr Nemeth or Ms Williams.
Ms Williams will continue giving evidence when the inquest resumes at 10am today.