The operator of Australia’s Dreamworld theme park has been fined 3.6 million Australian dollars ($2.5m) for a 2016 malfunction on one of its rides that killed four people.
Visitors Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett and Roozi Araghi were on the Thunder River Rapids Ride at the Queensland attraction when their raft came into contact with another carriage and flipped over, tossing some of the passengers onto the conveyer belt and into the ride’s machinery.
Low’s 10-year-old son and Goodchild’s 12-year-old daughter were also on the raft, but survived the accident.
Ardent Leisure pleaded guilty in July to three safety charges and was handed the punishment on Monday. The company had faced a maximum fine of $4.5 million AUD, CNN affiliate Nine News reported. CNN has contacted the company for comment.
A number of safeguarding failures were read to the court, Nine News reported, alongside a victim impact statement by Kim Dorsett, the mother of Goodchild and Dorsett.
“I cry for my children, my lost children, every day,” she said.
A 2018 inquest heard that the tragedy may have been averted had an emergency stop button been pressed, but staff at the theme park were advised in training “not to worry” about the button and instead rely first on a slower, seven-second button.
Radio presenter Patricia Karvelas, who was friends with two of the victims, reacted to Monday’s ruling by writing on Twitter: “This is the penalty for the death of my friends? What a dark day.”
Ardent Leisure operates two Gold Coast theme parks, Dreamworld and Whitewater World, as well as the city’s Sky Point observation deck.
In a statement sent to CNN affiliate Nine News, its chairman Gary Weiss and theme parks division CEO John Osbourne said they apologized “unreservedly for the past circumstances and failures at Dreamworld”.
“Ardent accepts responsibility for this tragedy without qualification or reservation,” the statement added. “Today we accept the Court’s decision to impose a fine of $3.6 million which is the largest fine in Queensland history for a workplace tragedy.”