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An eight-year-old girl was flung to her death at the Royal Adelaide Show – an annual carnival in South Australia – after ride operators ignored safety instructions, a coroner's inquest found.
Slipped out of restraints and flung into air
According to 7NEWS Australia, Adelene Leong had visited the show while on holiday with her mother in 2014.
While on the "Airmaxx 360" ride, she slipped out of restraints and was flung into the air before landing on the ground headfirst, in front of her mother and multiple witnesses.
The "Airmaxx 360" is an amusement park ride that rotates while moving up and down at fast speeds.
It was revealed that the Airmaxx had been operating at maximum force and a speed of at least 100km/h when Leong was flung out.
Leong had been hanging from her seat upside down by her left ankle just prior to being ejected.
She died from multiple injuries.
Operators did not abide by stipulated height requirements
At the inquiry on Jun. 8, Deputy State Coroner Ian White said that Leong's death could have been prevented had the operators abided by the ride manufacturer's height requirements.
According to 7NEWS Australia, the "Airmaxx 360" had been the "first of its kind" to be imported into Australia then, but did not undergo a required design registration process.
The ride was bought by amusement industry operators Jenny-Lee Sullivan and her husband Clinton Watkins, who soon found themselves under financial stress after having borrowed more than AUD$1 million (S$981,770) for the purchase.
They reportedly imposed a minimum height requirement of 120cm for unaccompanied riders, despite the ride manufacturer recommending 140cm.
White noted that the owners had likely deliberately concealed the information from relevant authorities, to expand the eligibility of patrons to ride on the Airmaxx.
Leong was 137cm tall at the time of her death.
According to White, Leong's death that day was thus "inexcusable", and "could and should have been prevented".
An inspection of the ride conducted at the show was also inadequate and staff were not properly trained, the coroner found.
The incident highlights the need for urgent reforms of amusement rides in Australia to be implemented, including the implementation of a nationwide regulatory process, a database of design registration numbers and better vetting of ride inspectors.
According to ABC News, calls for a national ride database have grown following Leong's death.
A spokesperson for Safe Work Australia has said that the national agency for work health and safety is considering the recommendations.
According to The Mirror, the Director of Public Prosecutions had opted in 2016 not to pursue criminal charges regarding Leong's death.
However, Sullivan and her company were later convicted in 2017 for breaching workplace health and safety laws.
Screenshots via 7NEWS Australia/YouTube
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