Mine death inquest: ‘Our hearts are broken’
THE heartbroken sister of a worker killed at a Central Queensland mine has tearfully paid tribute to the young father during a coronial inquest into his tragic death.
Daniel Springer died on August 5, 2017 while removing a damaged curved external wear plate from an excavator bucket onsite at BMA's Goonyella Riverside mine.
"Daniel brought nothing but joy to our family," sister Cristi Springer said.
During an emotional speech, Ms Springer told Mackay Coroners Court losing Daniel "has left a huge ache in all of us".
"Especially for my parents (Reon and Kerry) who never go a day without missing him," she said.
"My mother's heart is broken for the remainder of her days."
After listening to five days of technical and sometimes confronting evidence, Ms Springer wanted to share with those involved in the inquest how loved her brother was and the impact his death had on their family.
"He was a chubby toddler and as soon as he could run, he was running onto a football field as a little fat mascot for our older brother's football team," Brisbane-based Cristi said.
"No matter win or lose he would bring smiles to all the players."
He was one of five children with two old brothers Michael and Benjamin, and an older and younger sister, Emma and Cristi.
Only 15 months apart, Cristi said she and Daniel were inseparable growing up and spent their days at the beach, swimming holes, camping or chasing kangaroos at Cape Hillsborough.
Always active with sport of skateboarding, Daniel was also a self-taught surfer waking his mother up in the early hours for a lift so he could catch the morning swells.
"She would wait patiently in the car until he was ready to head home and tell her of his adventures in the ocean," Cristi said.
Good at anything he put his mind to, Daniel also taught himself bass and acoustic guitar.
"Apart from sports and music, he was really passionate about comedy sometimes putting on stand-up routines for me and his friends," Cristi said.
"Along with his sense of humour came his smile, he was more teeth than he was face."
Cristi said the birth of his son Wolf was one of the proudest days of his life.
"He was put on this earth for one thing and that was to be a dad," she said.
"Wolf was the love of Daniel's life and he didn't even get to see his first birthday.
"All we can hope from this (inquest) is that it will never ever happen again."
The inquest has heard evidence the size of the wear plates Daniel had been removing was of almost "unprecedented" dimensions.
The 30-year-old Independent Mining Services worker had been cutting a 2x3.4 metre plates into smaller pieces when a section sprang out about 650mm, due to stored energy, fatally striking him in the head. Multiple witnesses gave evidence this type of spring-back would not have been expected.
The court heard this was the first time this type of work had been performed onsite at the mine's bucket shop and that the ALS worker, Paul Thomspon, tasked with examining the bucket and highlighting any repair work did not fully inspect the entire bucket.
Mr Thompson told the court it was because there was no scaffolding available, although he said he would have requested it.
As a result he was only able to inspect up to 1.8 to 2m. The section Daniel had been removing, which was near a large, visible tear, had not been closely inspected.
Former BMA field maintenance supervisor Jack Alexander, who was recalled to give further evidence, was questioned over the claimed lack of scaffolding.
He conceded that "moving forward, yes" it was important to have all the information before machinery was repaired.
Mr Alexander said he did not recall a request for scaffolding but that "there's scaffolding available if organised".
He also said there were platforms of various sizes and styles and that ALS workers did not need special clearance to use them.
The inquest has been adjourned for a final day in Brisbane on March 30 when Daniel's wife Carmela Xiriha Springer will also speak about her husband.