Family’s Dreamworld raft ride from hell
THEY are the secret victims of the Dreamworld disaster.
A NSW family has launched bombshell legal action for their trauma and suffering after they were directly involved in the horror Thunder River Rapids ride tragedy which left four tourists dead, The Sunday Mail can reveal.
Bree Dedini and her husband Steven Apthorp were on the raft that collided with another carrying ride victims Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett, his partner Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low in October 2016.
The four died when their raft flipped and they were flung onto the ride conveyor.
While Ms Dedini and her family cheated death, they say the terrifying experience has destroyed their lives and are suing Dreamworld owner Ardent Leisure in the NSW Supreme Court.
In their statement of claim, the now-separated couple have alleged their plea to stop the ride after the rafts collided fell on deaf ears.
While their raft landed safely, the family's claim states they are mentally scarred after witnessing "scenes of traumatic injury".
In the court document, Mr Apthorp claims the force of the collision saw both rafts raise up to a 75-degree angle.
He alleges he called out to the ride attendant and "told her to activate the emergency stop", but she didn't.
Mr Apthorp told his wife to get their children to safety and went to try and help, only to be confronted by scenes of unimaginable horror.
According to their statement of claim, filed in the Supreme Court, Mr Apthorp and Ms Dedini have alleged they both now suffer from a "recognised psychiatric illness" and post-traumatic stress disorder because of the incident.
The PTSD "continues to affect" their daily lives, the claim states.
In a defence statement filed with the court, Ardent Leisure admits the NSW South Coast couple suffered a psychiatric injury but disputes the extent of ongoing PTSD. It has also denied negligence.
On Friday, the Supreme Court heard Ms Dedini had reached a settlement with Dreamworld and the matter was adjourned to next month be formalised.
Mr Apthorp was ordered by the court to attend an informal settlement conference before May 31 and his matter was adjourned until June 1.
Ms Dedini and Mr Apthorp were not called to give evidence at the six-week inquest into the Dreamworld disaster that finished last December.
The inquest was told of a litany of alleged problems with the Thunder River Rapids ride including convoluted emergency stop procedures, missing slats on the conveyor, repeated breakdowns, a spate of previous accidents and a 'total failure' by theme park staff and consultants to identify the risks.
Coroner James McDougall is expected to hand down his recommendations, which could include prosecutions of Dreamworld bosses and hefty fines, in the coming months.
Four Dreamworld staff on the scene of the accident have also launched legal action against Ardent for alleged severe psychological injuries.
Last year, their lawyer Tina Ibraheem said her clients had been subjected to trauma.
"Nobody should ever have to see what they were confronted with when they entered that (ride) trench," Ms Ibraheem, of Shine Lawyers, said. "The victims' bodies were so badly disfigured from crush and compression injuries that these first-aid officers were completely helpless, there was nothing they could do."
The tragedy was Australia's worst theme park disaster since the 1979 fire on the ghost train at Sydney's Luna Park, killing seven people.