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Outback ballooning director ordered to pay $ 150,000 over death of tourist Stephanie Bernoth in 2013


The directors of a former outback tourism company have been ordered to pay more than $ 150,000 over the death of a young tourist who went on one of their balloons eight years ago.

Outback ballooning directors Andrea and Jason Livingston were handed the fine today after the Alice Springs Local Court ruled that the company did not perform the occupational health and safety duties, leading to the death of the passenger.

Sydney’s wife Stephanie Bernoth, 35, died on July 15, 2013, two days after she was injured when the scarf she was wearing was sucked into an inflation fan while she was climbing into the balloon at Alice Springs.

A long court battle over death reached the Supreme Court was returned to Alice Springs Local Court in 2019.

Last month, Mr Livingston pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to failing to comply with occupational health and safety duties.

In court on Thursday, Mr Livingston and co-director Andrea Livingston were convicted and sentenced to a $ 120,000 fine, with a victim fee of $ 1,000.

They were also ordered to contribute $ 10,000 to the Occupational Safety Regulator, which brought the prosecutor, NT WorkSafe, so that it could provide written advice and distribute precautionary measures that tourists would have to take in various weather conditions in Central Australia.

The couple will also have to pay Clare’s legal costs, which amount to more than $ 23,000.

A photo of the fan and the incident involved a report on the death of Stephanie Bernoth.(



The maximum penalty for the costs that Outback Ballooning faced was a $ 1.5 million fine.

Judge Greg Borchers said the company “violated its duty to the passengers” by causing the potential risk posed by the balloon fan when the passengers were in the boat.

He told the court that these risk-reducing factors “would not have placed an unnecessary burden on the accused company to adopt, even if it meant hiring another employee to be present at the launch site where the balloon was to be inflated and loaded.” “

Mr and Mrs Livingston bought Outback Ballooning two weeks before Mrs Bernoth died.

The court heard that the company was no longer acting and could not meet its debts, but that its directors now run another balloon business through a separate company.

A balloon in the middle of the air above the Canowindra sports field
The hot air balloon ride should take tourists across the region around Alice Springs.(

ABC News: Xanthe Gregory


The head of NT WorkSafe, Bill Esteves, expressed his condolences to Mrs Bernoth’s husband and her family in the Philippines.

“The main point is a young woman died on vacation in the Northern Territory because a business did not have adequate systems in place to prevent injuries from a known hazard in the workplace.

“Entanglement in the machinery can cause fatal injuries and companies must ensure that they are not satisfied with safety and do not normalize to accept the risks.”

The court had previously heard that Mrs Bernoth’s family had been awarded compensation in 2014.



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