‘We hope Zoe’s death has not been in vain’ – Family of Stevenage-born 23-year-old speak out after Australian tour company fined for failings in cliff fall tragedy
- Credit: Archant
The family of 23-year-old woman who grew up in Stevenage and fell to her death while backpacking is “one step closer to getting their life back” after a tour company was convicted and fined for failings which led to the tragedy.
Zoe Woolmer was on a guided tour of Kings Canyon, Australia, in June 2014 when she tried to have her photo taken, but died after stumbling backwards off a hidden cliff ledge.
An inquest into the former Ashtree Primary School pupil’s death heard the directors of the company, The Rock Tour, said they knew nothing of the stunt but acknowledged they should have been aware.
In the Alice Springs Local Court, Judge David Bamber said the tour guide encouraged Miss Woolmer and others to attempt the dangerous photo stunt.
Judge Bamber said there were ‘clear warnings signs’ and the danger was ‘obvious’.
The work health authority, NT Worksafe, said it was a serious and easily preventable tragedy.
“I know that [The Rock Tour] have improved their systems to ensure that their customers aren’t taken to the edge of this particular area,” executive director Stephen Gelding said.
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“But it’s a wake-up call to all tour companies.”
The company’s directors, Jolyon George and Rob Cowan, were convicted and fined $140,000.
They declined to comment, but their lawyer said the sentence was fair.
The directors were also ordered to pay $12,290 in legal costs to NT Worksafe.
Following the court case in late June, Zoe’s mum Dawn – who lives in Hatfield where the family moved to when Zoe was at primary school – said: “This result is a long time in coming.
“We have been waiting two years for an admittance of what we already knew from the start.
“I have said many times that Zoe would never knowingly put her life in any danger. She put her trust in this tour company and they let her and in turn let us down too. Their constant denial has been an additional pain and frustration added to the loss for us as a family.
“We are now relieved to get to this at last.”
Mrs Woolmer added: “We believe that we are now one step closer to being able to get back some sort of life as a family, but will still have to work hard at creating that without our lovely daughter and sister. We will do that for Zoe’s sake as she would not want us to be unhappy.
“I hope nothing like this never happens again to any other family. While we are still trying to come to terms with what has happened to us and our loss we hope that because of it Zoe’s death has not been in vain.”