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Showground ride operator left control booth minutes before 8-year-old's death in Adelaide

An amusement attraction operator left his control booth to get a bottle of water minutes before the start of a showground ride in Adelaide that claimed the life of an eight-year-old girl.

Fairground file image. Source: istock.com

C J And Sons Amusement operator Brandon Miller testified via video link today as part of the inquest into the death of Adelene Leong, who was flung out of the AirMaxx 360 ride at the 2014 Royal Adelaide Show at 100km/h after slipping out of her safety harness.

Miller told the inquest that one of his responsibilities was to do a final check of the size of people boarding the AirMaxx 360.

He told the court that two-to-three minutes before the fatal ride he left the booth to get some water from the office while passengers disembarked and new passengers boarded, but was back before the ride began.

Miller said that the only people trusted to run the AirMaxx 360 when he took breaks were the co-owners, who were both away on that day.

A pair of attendants were tasked with checking that passengers' safety harnesses and seatbelts were fastened.

The court last week heard that Adelene's mother, who watched the incident from ground level, had to alert attendants that her daughter was not properly strapped in before the ride began.

Miller also said he could not recall that the measuring post for the ride recommended a 120cm minimum to ride, despite the machine's user manual specifying a 140cm limit.

Adelene was 137cm tall.

The court heard that Miller was advised by Worksafe Victoria to increase the minimum height to 130cm following a neck injury to a child at the Royal Melbourne Show prior to the Adelaide accident.

The company reset the limit to 120cm for following shows.

In a police statement Miller previously claimed that he advised patrons not to ride the AirMaxx360 if they only cleared the minimum height limit by less than 5cm, as he was concerned about their safety.

He told the Adelaide Coroners Court that aside from height limits he exercised "common sense" on who to admit onto the ride, which he says is typical practice across the industry.

"Obviously if someone had approached the ride and they were of a small body structure, thin physique, it's concerning for them to ride," he said.

"It's about more than just height."

He added some people could also be refused if they were perceived to be too heavy, but that people were not asked to state their weight or age as that would be relying on their word.

He could not recall a litany of technical problems with the machine, or that the co-owners were struggling to obtain certification for use of the ride in Australia.

The inquest continues.