State Watch

Six-year-old not strapped into ride before death at amusement park: report

A 6-year-old girl who fell to her death at an amusement park in Colorado was not buckled into the ride, according to a report from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. 

Wongel Estifanos died on Sept. 5 on the Haunted Mine Drop ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park after she fell 100 feet.

The report concluded that the employees did not properly check if she was buckled in and did not understand the operations of the ride. 

After each ride, all buckles are supposed to be undone, and workers are supposed to ensure that all lap belts are fastened to riders. An alarm sounds when there is an error in restraints for a seat. 

When Estifanos got on the ride, the buckle to her seat was not undone, and she sat on top of the restraints, according to the report. She pulled the end of the seat buckle used to tighten the restraint over her lap, which made it seem like the buckle was on. 

The alarm system reportedly signaled that the seat she was in had an error because the buckle was never undone after the last ride. However, the report said the two operators were not properly trained to understand the system. 

The operators went around and pushed the rods into seats for riders, including Estifanos, but did not fix her buckle. The alarm was still on, but the operators reset the system and continued with the ride. 

 

Dan Caplis, an attorney for the family, said in the statement to The Hill that the report proves Estifanos "was killed because of multiple failures by the amusement park and its operators." 

"Wongel's parents are determined to do everything in their power to make sure that no one ever dies this way again. As part of this mission they are asking witnesses to come forward, including folks who experienced problems with the Haunted Mine Drop before Wongel was killed on it," he added. 

The family plans to sue the park, and prosecutors will determine if criminal charges should be brought in the case. 

The "entire Glenwood Caverns family are heart-broken by the tragic accident that occurred here on September 5. There is no way we can imagine the pain of loss that the Estifanos family and their friends are experiencing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them," park founder Steve Beckley said. 

"We have been working closely with Colorado Division of Oil and Public Safety and independent safety experts to review this incident. Earlier today, we received the state's final report and will review it carefully for recommendations," he added.

Updated 3:16 p.m.

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