Mum desperate for answers over backpacker death
The grieving mother of a German backpacker who died at a Queensland avocado farm has journeyed across the world to find out what happened to her daughter.
Jennifer Kohl, 27, was crushed to death when the ride-on mower she was riding with her then-boyfriend rolled while they were working at Mt Tamborine Avocados in December 2017.
Cornelia Kohl travelled from Germany to be in the court as an inquest into the tragedy began in Southport on Wednesday.
The inquest will investigate what caused the mower to roll and whether employers implemented appropriate workplace health and safety measures for mower use on the property.
It will also explore whether the delay in dispatching emergency services could have been avoided.
Ms Kohl and her boyfriend Paul Tunik arrived in Australia in February 2017 and worked at Mt Tamborine Avacados for two to three weeks before the incident, counsel assisting Melina Zerner told the inquest.
"Ms Kohl and Mr Tunik had been travelling on a large John Deere four-by-four mower. It was attached to a trailer when it rolled over, pinning Ms Kohl under the mower and causing fatal injuries," Ms Zerner said.
"When the incident occurred, Mr Tunik called triple zero. Due to his poor English, there was some miscommunication as to his location."
A panicked Mr Tunik told emergency services that the accident occurred at Mount Coot-tha.
"Clearly, he was very distressed and desperate," Ms Zerner said.
Eventually, the backpacker flagged down two passers-by to talk to operators and redirect paramedics to the MacDonnell Road, Tamborine Mountain property - only for paramedics to again be sent to the wrong address.
"Because of the miscommunication, the QAS paramedics were dispatched to McDonald Road, Jimboomba instead of Tamborine Mountain.
"There was a delay, and once the address was confirmed, the QAS were redirected."
Ms Kohl remained trapped under the mower until paramedics arrived and together were able to lift it off the critically injured backpacker.
Farm owner Kenneth William Jacobi initially refused to give evidence until being granted immunity and being directed to answer by coroner Carol Lee.
Mr Jacobi told the inquest the backpackers had responded to a Gumtree advertisement and had been working around the property for about two weeks before being shown how to operate the tractor the day before the tragedy.
The tractor's cutting deck had been removed, with the four-by-four used for transporting avocados and general transportation.
The court was told that removing the deck significantly altered the John Deere machine's weight.
He said farm co-owner Kathryn Singleton demonstrated the use of the mower, which operated on a hydrostatic system and the backpackers were warned not to use the vehicle on the incline.
"There was not a great difficulty in understanding ... I don't remember any difficulty at all," Mr Jacobi said.
He did not believe the backpackers had significant difficulties understanding English despite using Google Translate.
Queensland Workplace Health and Safety charges against the farm owners were dropped last year after Mr Tunik declined to travel to Australia to give evidence.
Mr Tunik, who now lives in New Zealand, has declined to give evidence and cannot be compelled to testify.
The inquest is being held at Mrs Kohl's request after she took her fight for answers to the office of former prime minister Scott Morrison.
'Your departments such as Workplace Health and Safety and Fair Work Australia need more attention to detail when it comes to dealing with families of backpackers who die in your country," Mrs Kohl wrote to Mr Morrison after the tragedy.
"I was never able to say goodbye to my daughter."