Dreamworld’s parent company Ardent Leisure has been issued an improvement notice regarding customer safety amid an investigation into how an eight-year-old girl suffered a traumatic injury to her genitals while riding a water slide.
The Workplace Health and Safety Queensland probe comes just over two months after Ardent Leisure was fined $3.6 million for the deaths of four patrons at Dreamworld in 2016.
In the latest incident, the girl was injured riding the Fully 6 water slides with her siblings at WhiteWater World – Dreamworld’s sister park and Gold Coast neighbour – on November 22.
Shine Lawyers are now investigating a personal injury claim against the theme park on behalf of the eight-year-old’s family.
“We simply couldn’t believe the extent of this young girl’s injuries when she had done everything requested of her before going down the slide,” solicitor Bree Smith said in a statement to news.com.au.
“This water slide has a powerful water force and the only instruction given to the young girl was to ‘keep your arms and legs crossed’.”
A WhiteWater World spokeswoman said the theme park “acknowledges the injury sustained by the guest in question”.
The girl emerged from the ride crying and bleeding after suffering a severe vaginal tear.
Ms Smith said the girl “has severe internal injuries” and lost “half a litre of blood”, alleging “no urgency” from staff at the water park.
“The mood changed significantly when our client and her daughter arrived at Logan Hospital by ambulance,” she said.
“Two surgeries later and our client has no idea what her daughter’s future will look like.
“She (the girl’s mother) is in a terrible state, she can’t even work she is so traumatised. She wants other parents to know that this can happen.”
News.com.au understands the injury was sustained due to the force of the water.
The ride, transported in 13 containers from Turkey, opened at the Coomera-based theme park last summer and pumps up to five million litres of water in a day.
“Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has issued Ardent Leisure with an improvement notice regarding patron safety on the Fully Six water slide,” a spokesman told news.com.au in a statement.
“As WHSQ’s investigation is ongoing, no further comment can be made.”
The Fully 6 ride features six slides “with varying thrill levels” including open-aired, partially enclosed, enclosed with light effects and “totally steep for the ultimate body slide experience”, according to WhiteWater World.
All riders must be at least 1.2 metres tall and weigh no more than 120 kilograms.
“Ride is not suitable for pregnant guests. Single riders per slide only,” its description states.
WhiteWater World said the guest “met all manufacturer requirements for the attraction”.
“And was given detailed and repeated instructions on how to position herself for the slide, including a physical demonstration by a slide operator,” the water park said.
It said the girl presented to WhiteWater World’s park health facility.
Her injury was assessed by a team member – a registered nurse and paramedic – and an ambulance was called.
“The injury was reported to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland by WhiteWater World upon the guest’s admission to hospital and an internal investigation continues,” the theme park said.
“Our thoughts remain with the guest and her family and we wish her a full and fast recovery.”
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Ardent Leisure was fined $3.6 million in September after pleading guilty to three charges relating to the deaths of four people on the Thunder River Rapids ride in October 2016.
Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi all suffered fatal injuries when they were thrown from their raft in the unloading area and either trapped or ejected into the water beneath a mechanised conveyor, an inquest heard.
Coroner James McDougall said there was a “total” and “systemic failure by Dreamworld to ensure all aspects of safety”.
WhiteWater World has been contacted for further comment regarding the improvement notice.