Outback Ballooning directors ordered to pay $ 150,000 for the death of tourist Stephanie Bernoth in 2013

The executives of a former outback tourism company have been ordered to pay more than $ 150,000 for the death of a young tourist boarding one of their hot air balloons eight years ago.

Outback Ballooning directors Andrea and Jason Livingston were handed the fine today after Alice Springs Local Court found that the company’s non-compliance with occupational health and safety tasks resulted in the passenger’s death.

Sydney woman Stephanie Bernoth, 35, died on July 15, 2013, two days after she was injured when the headscarf she was wearing was sucked into an inflation fan while she boarded the balloon near Alice Springs.

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

Last month, Livingston pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to non-compliance with work assignments.

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

They were also ordered to contribute $ 10,000 to the occupational safety regulator that brought the prosecution, NT WorkSafe, to create and distribute written advice on precautions to be taken by tourists in various weather conditions in Central Australia.

The couple must also pay the plaintiff’s legal costs, which amounted to more than $ 23,000.

A photo of the tab involved in the incident from a report on Stephanie Bernoth’s death.(



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

Judge Greg Borchers said the company “violated its duty to passengers” by not eliminating or minimizing the potential risk posed by the balloon fan when passengers boarded.

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

Sir. And Mrs. Livingston bought Outback Ballooning two weeks before Bernoth died.

The court heard that the company was no longer trading and was unable to cover its debt, but that its directors now run another balloon business through a separate company.

A balloon in the middle of the air over the Canowindra sports field
The hot air balloon ride blamed tourists over the area around Alice Springs.(

ABC News: Xanthe Gregory


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

“The main point is that a young woman on holiday in the Northern Territory died because a company did not have the appropriate systems in place to prevent injuries from a well-known danger in the workplace.

“Involvement in machines can cause life-threatening injuries, and companies must ensure that they are not complacent with safety and do not normalize acceptance of risks.”

The court has previously heard Mrs Bernoth’s family was awarded compensation in 2014.


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