Boy, 6, killed after being flung from favourite ride in amusement park horror

A six-year-old boy died after he was thrown from his favourite ride after he went on it without his parents for the first time.

Eugene Mahauariki, 6, was killed after he was thrown from the Cha Cha carnival ride on the last day of Melbourne's Rye Easter Carnival in April 2017.

Witnesses claim to have seen Eugene, who was placed in the outside seat meant for adults and bigger kids, thrown around on the ride, before the incident occurred.

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The six-year-old was said to be tall for his age, at 132cm (4.3ft) and able to ride without an adult, but his parents never let him ride alone.

When last ride was called on the final day of the carnival, he lined up with a younger friend and was placed in the outside seat, with his smaller friend, who should have been riding with an adult, seated beside him.

The ride started up and the pair slid into each other as it spun around.

Witnesses say they saw a small boy outside the Cha Cha car, "holding on tight and looking frightened", before he fell

Eugene struck his head on part of the ride before landing on the ground beneath it.

His parents Tammy White and Stacey Mahauariki, who both worked for the ride operator Wittingslow Amusements, heard the noise and rushed to help.

Eugene was flown to hospital but could not be saved, and he died after his life support was turned off on April 21, 2017.

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"Eugene was a small child enjoying a ride at a fair on an Easter long weekend like hundreds of other children," counsel assisting Rachel Ellyard told an inquest into his death on Monday.

"The Cha Cha is an example of many rides that are fun because they're a bit dangerous, or at least they feel dangerous.

"But parents only let their child ride because although they feel like they're on the edge of danger, they're actually safe," she said.

An inquest will hear from the workers of the Melbourne's Rye Easter Carnival as all elements of the accident that claimed Eugene's life are examined by coroner Sarah Gebert over the next two weeks.

"The loss of such a young child, and particularly in the circumstances, is undoubtedly devastating to his family, also to our community as a whole," she said.

"We collectively shudder at what has happened, and all look for answers as to why."

Wittingslow Amusements was charged by WorkSafe with failing to ensure people other than employees weren't exposed to health or safety risks, on the basis that the restraint system was not sufficient.

Those charges were withdrawn in early 2020.

Owner Michael Wittingslow is on the witness list for the inquest but has refused to give evidence, even if he was given protection against his evidence being used against him in a criminal proceeding.

Another man, Hamish Munro, an engineer who assessed the Cha Cha five months before Eugene's death, also refused.


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