Dreamworld defends slide safety after girl injured
Dreamworld has defended the safety of a water slide in which an eight-year-old girl allegedly suffered horrific genital injuries.
As exclusively revealed by The Courier-Mail, the furious family of the Logan girl has called in lawyers after she was allegedly injured riding the Fully6 slide at Dreamworld's sister park WhiteWater World on November 22.
They say the incident nine days ago turned the water 'red with blood' and left her seriously injured in hospital needing two operations.
They allege the theme park failed to warn of the dangers and botched its response, with lengthy delays in calling an ambulance and leaving the first-aid room left unattended.
In a statement, WhiteWater World said it "acknowledged the injury sustained by the guest in question".
"It can be confirmed that 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," a spokesman said.
"After presenting to WhiteWater World's Park Health facility, staffed by a team member who is both a Registered Nurse and a Paramedic, the injury was assessed 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.
"Our thoughts remain with the guest and her family and we wish her a full and fast recovery."
The girl's mother, a nurse, broke down yesterday as she recounted the incident at Dreamworld's sister park WhiteWater World on November 22.
The Logan woman, who wants to be known only as Sarah, said she and her family were visiting the parks after recently buying an annual pass.
Her daughter was riding the Fully6 slide with her siblings when she emerged from the water bleeding and crying in pain.
"She was just standing on the concrete, blood everywhere. I didn't know where it was coming from, I was freaking out," Sarah said.
"The blood was just pouring out of her … she was crying 'Mum, am I gonna die?'"
Sarah said no staff were on hand to help, even as her daughter left bloody footprints as they made their way to first-aid. She claims a young male staffer pointed her to the first-aid room 'and just walked off'.
Sarah said the first-aid room was unattended, and with no phone to call the number on the door, she sent her 12-year-old daughter to 'go and find someone'.
She said the floor was 'full of blood' and she told a female staffer who arrived to call an ambulance. But Sarah claims the employee only rang the first-aid officer, who suggested the young girl was having her period.
"I said, 'she's 8 years' old … this is not her period," Sarah said.
"She's crying, in pain, bleeding everywhere. They didn't take it seriously."
Sarah said an ambulance finally arrived about an hour after the incident, and her daughter was taken to Logan Hospital where she underwent emergency surgery for a severe vaginal tear.
Her recovery will take eight weeks and she cannot go back to school this year.
"The doctors don't know what long-term effects this could have on her," Sarah said.
Fully6 riders were told only to cross their legs and arms but there was no warning about the potential dangers of wearing swimsuits on the slide, Sarah said.
She said the first-aid officer who rang to check on her daughter told her the park was short-staffed and security had not advised that it was an emergency.
Sarah said she only took her family to Dreamworld because she believed safety problems that led to the 2016 Thunder River Rapids disaster, in which four tourists died, had been fixed.
She has called in major litigation firm Shine Lawyers, which handled millions of dollars in successful compensation claims for the Thunder River Rapids tragedy, to investigate more potential legal action against Dreamworld.
"I don't care about the money … I just never want anyone else to go through this," she said.
Shine Lawyers solicitor Bree Smith said: "An 8-year-old girl has severe internal injuries from a slide at White Water World that she was permitted to ride. This cannot be happening."
"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," Ms Smith said.
"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.'
"In the wake of the damning inquest findings against Dreamworld, it is distressing to also hear how our client was treated when trying to get medical attention for her bleeding daughter."
A Dreamworld spokesman said the park had self-reported the incident to WorkSafe Queensland and was conducting its own investigation.
In September, Dreamworld parent Ardent Leisure was fined $3.6 million after pleading guilty to workplace health and safety charges over the Thunder River Rapids ride catastrophe.