A Central Coast mother has been named as one of the victims of the Dreamworld incident that claimed the lives of four people on October 25.
Ms Cindy Low, a 42 year old East Gosford resident, died following a fatal raft collision on the Thunder River Rapids ride. The horror incident also claimed the lives of 32 year old, Ms Kate Goodchild, her 35 year old brother, Mr Luke Dorsett and Mr Dorsett’s 38 year old partner, Mr Roozi Araghi. The raft which contained Ms Low, her son Kieran, the three other deceased and Ms Goodchild’s daughter, Ebony, collided with the raft in front of it upon mounting the ride’s conveyor belt, and flipped over. The collision threw four of the occupants from the raft into the shallow water, whilst the other two were believed to have been pinned between the raft and the machinery of the conveyor belt. Miraculously, the children, Kieran and Ebony, escaped the fatal accident without serious injury.
Ms Low’s husband, Matthew, had been at another part of the theme park with the couple’s daughter Isla, when the accident occurred. On November 2, Ms Low’s family issued a statement to confi rm that her funeral was to be strictly private, for friends and family only. “It has been 10 days since we lost Cindy in a catastrophic tragedy at Dreamworld,” the statement said. “We have spent every day trying to put one foot in front of the other and it is extremely hard.
“It is impossible to imagine a world without Cindy, our beloved daughter, partner and mothe rto Kieran and Isla. “It is going to take us a long time to fi nd out way, so we ask the media to respect our need for privacy as we come to grips with this, especially as we farewell Cindy.” Queensland Police confi rmed the incident was caught on Dreamworld’s CCTV and that investigations into the accident would continue. Dreamworld has been closed since the incident and plans by park owner, Ardent Leisure, to partially reopen on October 28 for a public memorial had to be postponed whilst investigations continued.
The incident has divided the nation, with a savage social media backlash pointing fi ngers at park staff, maintenance issues and blaming cost cutting for the tragedy. Brisbane man, Mr Brok Bunker, wrote on Dreamworld’s Facebook page: “Dreamworld has been cost cutting for years and hiring young staff is part of that. “Just like the young 18 year old girl who had control of the emergency stop button when this incident occurred. “It was her fi rst day on the job and she was unsupervised.” Melbourne woman, Ms Lana Kapitan, wrote: “Dreamworld is so old and run down, it really needs to be demolished and a whole new safe theme park built. “But they won’t do that because of greed/money.
“This tragedy that could have been prevented”, Ms Kapitan said. Others have rallied to Dreamworld’s defence and have insisted that the masses should wait for police and forensic investigations to conclude before they lay blame. Wagga Wagga woman, Ms Lisa Alexander, wrote: “You will come back from this, please look after yourselves and get the counselling required for your recovery. “I’ve been there many times and this was our favourite family friendly ride. “No one could predict the accident occurring.” Lismore woman, Ms Mary Ellen Powell, wrote: “Just remember Dreamworld staff, many more smiles have left your park than grief.” Initial reports from QLD Police and emergency services suggest a pump failure caused the incident, but QLD Police Assistant Commissioner, Mr Brian Codd, told media it was still too early to say what the specifi c cause was.
Visitors to Dreamworld on the day also reported that the ride had needed to be drained of its water for maintenance prior to the fatal accident. Ardent Leisure also received criticism after a tense press conference where Ardent’s CEO, Ms Deborah Thomas, claimed Dreamworld and Ardent Leisure had reached out to all of the families of the victims and offered to pay for their funerals. This was disputed by the Dorsett family who claim they had had no communication with Dreamworld or Ardent Leisure at the time of Ms Thomas’ media conference.
Ms Thomas also feted backlash when it was revealed Ardent planned to reopen Dreamworld and return to daily operations on October 29, just a day after the cancelled memorial. This plan has since been railroaded following QLD Police’s continuing investigation. Dreamworld CEO, Mr Craig Davidson, also released a media statement on October 28. In this statement, Mr Davidson confi rmed that a private staff memorial was held at Dreamworld on October 28 by more than 400 staff members. Mr Davidson also stated that Dreamworld understood that there were many questions regarding safety reviews and that regular updates would be released following safety audits of the park.
“These audits, both external and internal, will be peer reviewed and no attraction in Dreamworld will reopen until these audits are completed,” Mr Davidson said. Mr Davidson also said that under instruction from Ms Thomas, no part of Dreamworld will reopen until after the funerals of the four people who lost their lives have been held.
Mr Davidson’s media statement also addressed other issues surrounding the incident including a supposed Dreamworld employee’s inappropriate comments on social media and misreporting by media outlets surrounding the staff member who was operating the ride at the time of the accident. Mr Davidson stated that the supposed Dreamworld employee was not a Dreamworld engineer but a sub-contractor for a company who managed scaffolding for park refurbishment.
Media release, Oct 26, 2016 QLD Police Media Press Conference, Oct 26, 2016 Deborah Thomas, Ardent Leisure Media statement, Oct 27, 2016 QLD Police Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd Dilon Luke, journalist