Former Dreamworld operations manager Troy Margetts has fought back tears while denying allegations he pressured a staff member not to speak with police following the Thunder River Rapids tragedy that claimed four lives.
Mr Margetts took the stand on Friday at the hearing into the deaths of Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi when the ride failed in October 2016.
The inquest in June heard junior ride operator Courtney Williams was told by Mr Margetts “not to say anything to anyone, not to give any statements and wait to the side”.
An emotional Mr Margetts struggled to respond when quizzed about the allegations by Toby Nielsen, the barrister acting for the Araghi family.
“That did not happen in any way,” said Mr Margetts, who left the park in January after 28 years of service.
“My only conversation regarding that was to ask the officer to remove her from that situation because of where she was and because what we were seeing was very traumatic.”
Mr Nielsen accepted the explanation of the former general manager of park operations, who attributed a combination of operator error and lack of engineering control for the disaster at ‘s biggest theme park.
Mr Margetts admitted to not seeing two key memos instructing ride operators about changes to the emergency stop procedures before the disaster.
He also agreed with Ms Low’s barrister Matthew Hickey that the drafting of the emergency stop procedure document had shown a “glaring omission of knowledge” that caused operator confusion.
The business had grown significantly in the time since he had started and it was effectively still a family business, he said.
“By the time I’d left it’d become a corporation, a public company.”
Mr Margetts agreed “in some instances” with Mr Hickey’s suggestion that Dreamworld “middle management asked to do more with less” and that “policies and procedures struggled to keep up”.
He said weekly leadership and management meetings were held to communicate any operational concerns, but admitted the departments had worked largely independently.
“I’d suggest better engagement between the engineering team and the attractions team,” Mr Margetts said when asked how operators could have become more intimately familiar with the operation of the park’s rides.
After the inquest on Friday, Ardent Leisure chairman Gary Weiss said the company was “deeply sorry” for the accident.
“We understand how difficult this time has been for everyone involved, including the first responders to the accident.”
The hearing will resume on November 12, when more senior Dreamworld officials are expected to be cross-examined.
Four former park employees are suing Dreamworld for psychological injuries suffered on the day of the tragedy.