Release date: 07 December 2023

The death of Adrian Meyer whilst snorkelling on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef last week is a tragic reminder to tour operators to put safety first as visitors flock to the region for the upcoming summer holidays.  

Mr Meyer’s son, Nick Meyer, says he is “fiercely fighting” for change and wants to see a thorough investigation and the laws reviewed to make sure this never happens again. 

“Safety needs to be the number one consideration for tour operators who provide these commercial diving experiences designed to create profits,” Mr Meyer said.  

“We need a greater emphasis on safety to make sure that all equipment is in working order, staff are suitably trained to follow safety procedures and use safety equipment, and that all safety guidelines are followed.” 

“Tourism operators have a responsibility, and it is their responsibility to understand what happened and assess what more could be done to prevent the same happening again.” 

Angela Henson, daughter of Adrian Meyer, feels strongly that all companies need to have practices surrounding mental health in the face of tragedy. 

“Being greeted by lawyers, before the police and the undertaker, demonstrates a lack of compassion and empathy. I had just lost my father and sat beside his body on the harrowing journey back to shore, still trying to process what had happened. The realisation that the tour company was taking steps to protect themselves at this time, was hard to believe.  

“As well as that, I had also faced my own mortality that day. We all struggled in the dangerous conditions, including the crew, and were physically exhausted from fighting the strong current.  

“I could see that people were in danger, unable to get back to the boat and highly distressed, with many crying and shouting out. This escalated when the only life boat capsized and sank, and there was then no other means to get all these people to safety.  

“It was only thanks to another reef experience boat coming to our rescue that we made it back to the boat. I shudder to think of the consequences had they not been in the area.” 

As the family prepare for the funeral next week, they are left managing the weight of the traumatic event. Mr Meyer says the experience has had far-reaching consequences for the whole family, particularly for his mother, Rosalyn.  

“Mum has stage four liver cancer and dad has been her primary carer. She is now suffering with the loss of her life-long partner and her own medical condition,” Mr Meyer said. 

Serious inquiries have been initiated with the Queensland Premier announcing a comprehensive review by Workplace Health & Safety Queensland, alongside a coronial inquest. The family has also enlisted the services of personal injury lawyer Travis Schultz of Travis Schultz & Partners (TSP).  

Travis Schultz, Managing Partner of the leading compensation firm, says, “This is a timely reminder for tour operators of high-risk activities to revisit their responsibilities ensuring they follow all maintenance and safety procedures, as they are ultimately responsible for people’s lives. The human cost of tragedies like this is enormous. And sadly, that’s what we, as compensation lawyers, deal with all too often. 

“Right now, our hearts go out to Mr Meyer’s family as they grapple with how a much-anticipated family holiday has ended in such devastating circumstances. We look forward to the outcomes from the in-depth investigations by others, as well as our own, to determine what happened on that fateful day and how it could have been avoided.”  

Mr Schultz adds that snorkelling’s position at number seven in the top 10 National Safety Agenda issues, emphasised the importance of high-level water safety training of individuals and tour operators to prevent fatal mistakes and ultimately save lives1

“If an incident occurs, the business operator needs to show the regulator that they have used an effective risk management process. This responsibility is covered by their primary duty of care in the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011,” Mr Schultz said. 

“When something goes horribly wrong it not only has a profound impact on the person’s family, friends and community, the ripple effect is far and wide and felt by all those that work in the industry. 

“Tragically, injuries and even fatalities can and do occur in these types of activities. More than ever, people need reassuring that their tour operator is fully compliant with regulations for them to feel safe and comfortable with the experience.  

“An incident like this rightly sends shock waves through the industry and the broader local tourism market, particularly given the global media coverage it has generated and the spotlight it places on our safety record and the professionalism of our operators.” 

Travis Schultz & Partners is assisting police and undertaking its own investigations into the incident and the tour operator. The law firm is keen to hear from others who have used this tour operator in the past or have information regarding the incident. Contact 07 5406 7405. 

1 Surf Life Saving Australia, Coastal Safety Brief, Diving & Snorkelling, data 2004-2020.