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Police officer suing over trauma from seeing dead bodies in aftermath of Dreamworld tragedy

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A police officer who was exposed to four dead bodies after the Dreamworld Thunder River Rapids ride tragedy in 2016 is suing the theme park’s parent company. 

Andrew James Mainey said while working as a Gold Coast police officer, he was sent to “the scene of the carnage” on October 25, 2016, to assist paramedics and first responders.

Mr Mainey said in a court affidavit that he saw the body of a male victim, who was declared dead after resuscitation attempts failed.

“I could also see bodies caught up in the gears of the Thunder River rapids ride,” Mr Mainey said.

Mr Mainey said it was also his job to hold a black sheet over the victims.


“I was required to stand on the conveyor belt, which was situated above the bodies caught in the gears,” Mr Mainey said in his affidavit.

“I remember holding the black sheet up for a period of time while the recovery process was being undertaken.”

Mr Mainey said over the next five days he helped with the investigation, ensuring unauthorised people did not enter the site.

During his shifts over the five days he was seated at the entrance to the ride, he said.


“During this time, I continued to be exposed to the investigation being conducted and hearing the discussions about the incident among authorities,” Mr Mainey said.



Mr Mainey said after the Dreamworld incident he began having nightmares, and feeling negative emotions, irritability and a lack of trust, but continued with his police work.

He said in September, last year, he injured his right knee after arresting an offender and had a number of weeks off work.

In December, he lodged an application for compensation after having issues with a supervisor whom he said claimed he was exaggerating his symptoms after his return to work.

His GP referred him to a psychiatrist, who in December, last year, diagnosed him as having post traumatic stress disorder, as a result of seeing dead and dismembered bodies at Dreamworld.


Mr Mainey said in his affidavit that the psychiatrist delved deeper into his work history and quickly identified the Dreamworld incident as the catalyst of his psychological injury.

He instructed lawyers after he was unable to continue working for Queensland Police Service.

Sciacca’s Lawyers, for Mr Mainey, applied to the court for the limitation period for making a claim to be extended, so he could pursue a personal injuries claim.

A notice of claim was served on Dreamworld parent company Ardent Leisure in March, but a claim is yet to be filed in the court.


Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi died after their ride raft flipped.


Last year Dreamworld’s parent company Ardent Leisure was convicted and fined $3.6 million, after entering guilty pleas to three workplace health and safety charges, following a lengthy coronial inquest. 

Ardent Leisure Limited declined to comment.



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Yeah look I can give it to the Dreamworld staff who most certainly did not expect to deal with such trauma, I don't think the same of those who signed up in that role to be first respondents. While I think it's worth pursuing against your employer, I'm not sure I agree with going after DW in this specific instance.

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I'm no legal expert, and I don't know how many of you know your laws. But does he have a case? I wouldn't say seeing disfigured dead bodies is the expectation for someone in law enforcement, but surely it's unreasonable to think that you would never see a horrific scene as a part of this career. 

I feel bad for him, obviously. I couldn't imagine seeing what he say, and it's clearly left a horrible impact on his life. But I don't personally think Dreamworld are at fault for a first responder doing their job. If the officer wins this case, than shouldn't that give the right for doctors to sue their patients for the trauma they experienced via their patient's injuries? 

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3 hours ago, bladex said:

also why did he wait this long to file the case?

Its in the article. He was only 'recently' diagnosed with PTSD from the incident.

As for the case its self, going in as a cop, you're kinda expected to see dead bodies, regardless what branch of QPS you're assigned to. He may have a workers comp. claim but I don't think the suit against DW/Ardent will stand, unless their willing to throw money at it to go away and stay quiet.

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***Trigger Warning - self harm and death***


I am a volunteer in the QLD SES. A volunteer however has the same rights to workers compensation as a paid employee - they are deemed an employee for workcover purposes. 

SES volunteers are sometimes right beside police officers in missing persons, and searches for bodies. The units I have been attached to over the years have been involved in finding the remains of Daniel Morcombe, Alison Baden Clay and many other lesser known deaths, self harm and similar. It is a nature of the job no more or less than a police officer might expect to encounter - although the exposure to trauma is much higher likelihood for Police.

I experienced a level of PTSD after a self harm case with a bad ending. All mental health related treatment, time off from my (paid) employment, medication etc was covered by Queensland workcover. I recovered and didn't experience long term impacts, though talking about it does have its effects. If it did impact me long term, I've no doubt I could have pursued compensation and i'm sure that, if I had the psychological evidence to support my claim, i've no doubt the insurer would have paid out. 

Never for a minute did I contemplate that liability could land with the person's estate, or a corporation connected to the case. Because it is exposure to trauma based on your employment, and it is your employer who is responsible for your safe working environment. 

This is my own personal opinion. I'm not a lawyer. I would be very keen to understand how Dreamworld would be liable for this injury, when it is his employer and employment that placed him there, not Dreamworld. 


As for what this (former?) officer is claiming - Every person reacts differently to such trauma. I've attended numerous incidents - even as field commander - and seen some gruesome sights, but that one case just hit me and i still don't know why. I've no doubt his symptoms and condition are legitimate and quite happy to argue anyone who suggests otherwise.

That said, Police would attend gruesome traffic accidents and industrial manslaughter cases in factories and on farms with some level of regularity that I struggle to align the Dreamworld incident any differently to any other trauma incident that would place liability on the park. My 2c. 


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