Eugene Mahuauriki’s favorite carnival ride was the Cha Cha.
At 132cm, the six-year-old was tall for his age and able to ride without an adult, but his parents never let him ride alone.
When the last ride was called on the last day of the Rye Easter Carnival in April 2017, he queued up with a younger friend.
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For the first time, he was seated in the outside seat intended for adults and older children.
Sitting next to him was his smaller friend, who should have been riding with an adult.
The ride began and the pair slid into each other as they spun around.
Some witnesses say it was faster than usual, others say it was normal speed.
But everyone saw a little boy in front of Cha Cha’s car holding on and looking scared. Then he fell.
Eugene hit his head part of the way before hitting the ground underneath.
His parents, Tammy White and Stacey Mahauariki, who both work for ride operator Wittingslow Amusements, heard the noise and rushed to help.
Eugene was airlifted to the hospital but could not be saved. He died after life support was turned off on April 21, 2017.
“Eugene was a young child enjoying a ride at a carnival over a long Easter weekend, as did hundreds of other children,” the attorney who was assisting Rachel Ellyard said Monday in an inquest into his death.
“The Cha Cha is an example of a lot of rides that are fun because they’re a little dangerous, or at least feel dangerous.”
But parents only let their child drive because they feel on the brink of danger but are actually safe, she said.
Parents and drivers expect that the machines are in good working order, the ride is safe and the drivers are well trained.
These are all elements of the accident that killed Eugene that will be investigated by coroner Sarah Gebert over the next two weeks.
“The loss of such a young child, and especially in these circumstances, is undoubtedly devastating to his family and also to our community as a whole,” he said.
“We shudder together at what happened and we’re all looking for answers as to why.”
Wittingslow Amusements was accused by WorkSafe of failing to ensure that people other than employees were not exposed to health or safety risks because the restraint system was inadequate.
Those charges were withdrawn in early 2020.
Owner Michael Wittingslow is on the witness list for the inquest but has refused to testify even after being granted protection that his evidence will be used against him in a criminal case.
Another man, Hamish Munro, also refused. He is an engineer who evaluated the Cha Cha five months before Eugene’s death.
https://7news.com.au/news/crime/we-collectively-shudder-inquest-begins-after-boy-killed-falling-from-ride-at-victorian-carnival–c-8041300 ‘We shudder together’: The investigation begins after a boy is killed by a ride at the Victorian carnival