Charges were laid last Friday 26 May 2023, against the master and company that owns the high-speed vessel Falls Express, which collided with rocks at Horizontal Falls on 27 May 2022 while carrying 25 passengers and 2 crew on an eco-tour of Talbot Bay in Western Australia.
Dozens of people onboard Falls Express were seriously injured as a result of the domestic commercial vessel’s operation at high-speed through the narrow 7.5m gap at Horizontal Falls.
The response effort, by emergency services and other domestic commercial vessels operating in the area at the time, was rapid and commendable.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has meticulously investigated the incident, gathering, and analysing evidence over the past year.
With support from the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, charges have now been laid under the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 (the “National Law”).
The master, Edward James Whisson, has been charged with two safety-related offences— failing to take reasonable care, and not implementing and complying with the safety management system for the vessel and its operations.
The owner, Journey Beyond Adventures Pty Ltd (trading as Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures), has been charged with two offences for failing to, so far as reasonably practicable, ensure the safety of the vessel, its equipment and the operation of the vessel; and failing to implement and maintain a safety management system that could ensure Falls Express, and its operations, were safe.
As this matter will now proceed to the Magistrates Court of Western Australia, it would be inappropriate for AMSA to comment further.
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