New report finds girl killed in amusement park accident was not buckled in
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (KMGH) - New findings have been released after a girl died when she fell off an amusement park ride in Colorado.
A new report shows negligence led to the death of 6-year-old Wongel Estifanos on a ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
The series of events started when a group of five rode the Haunted Mine Drop ride, leaving one seat open. A ride operator then buckled the seatbelts of the empty seat.
Estifanos’ group was next. Her seat was the one previously unoccupied and she sat down on top of the seatbelts.
The report says that started a chain reaction of failures by park employees.
“The fatal accident was a result of multiple operator errors,” said Greg Johnson, public safety manager for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
The state’s investigation determined operators didn’t notice the little girl was sitting on her two seatbelts instead of being strapped into them.
Another operator chose to reset the ride’s seatbelt monitor, which would have alerted them that Estifanos wasn’t properly secured, and that allowed the ride to begin.
The report even stated the operating manual for the ride does not instruct operators on how to properly address errors.
“The findings absolutely confirm that this is 100% the fault of the park and not the rider,” Dan Caplis said.
Caplis is the lawyer representing Estifanos family. He said they plan on filing a lawsuit against the park next week.
“These parents are absolutely determined to make sure this never happens again,” he said.
In a statement to KMGH, Glenwood Caverns said that safety has always been the park’s priority.
“Since opening our first ride just over 15 years ago, Glenwood Caverns adventure park has delivered more than 10 million safe and enjoyable rides,” the statement said.
However, the state’s report also found a rider back in 2019 claimed to have alerted the park of a similar situation where that rider also sat on the seatbelts.
When they told the operator they weren’t properly strapped in, the operator argued they were.
While the park has since reopened, the Haunted Mine Drop remains closed with no word on when this very popular ride might start up again.
The state can levy fines against the park for the safety violation. The Garfield County’s District Attorney said he is still awaiting the final investigation from the sheriff’s office to determine if actual charges will be filed.
In a written statement, the founder of the park said they are “heartbroken by the tragic accident” and added that the future of the Haunted Mine Drop is undetermined.
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