A report from Colorado investigators says a 6-year-old girl who died in a fall at a theme park this month was not wearing seat belts and vertical descent operators did not properly check retainers.
DENVER, Colo .– A 6-year-old girl from Colorado who died in a fall while strolling through a theme park this month was not wearing seat belts, and vertical descent operators do ‘Have not properly checked the restraints before allowing it to begin, according to a report from state investigators.
Wongel Estifanos fell 30 meters to her death when descending the haunted mine at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on September 5, according to the report released Friday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
Investigators found the child was sitting on both seat belts instead of wearing them on his lap, and two newly hired operators never noticed him despite checks. Investigators also found that an alarm system was warning of a problem, but one of the workers reset the system and started the ride because they were not trained enough to know what to do about it. .
According to the report, the ride includes two seat belts – one that uses a vehicle-like buckle and another that uses a rod buckle system. Ride operator manuals state that workers should fasten both lap belts, but the manuals do not include instructions on what to do if a mistake is made. Investigators said workers had not been trained on the user manual, the alarm system or how to respond to a problem.
Operators are expected to unbuckle all seat belts after each journey so that the next load of people can be buckled. a belt on her knees, giving the impression that she was buckled.
When the alarm went off, an operator returned to check the rods and saw that they were properly secured, and a second operator then unlocked the rods and reinserted them. The workers did not understand that the child was not wearing the seat belts on his knees, according to the report. The alarm has been reset and the journey has started.
Dan Caplis, a lawyer representing the Estifanos family, said the investigation report showed that “it could have been so easily avoided”. He said the family plan to pursue the park and are determined to make sure that never happens again.
“The report makes it clear that it is the park’s fault, not the runner’s fault,” he said. “The park was fully responsible for making sure everyone was engaged. This is not one of those rides where the rider is responsible for anything including tying up. The park is supposed to do all of that. The report makes it clear that this could have been so easily avoided. “
Park founder Steve Beckley said “safety is, and always has been, our top priority”.
“Since opening our first ride just over 15 years ago, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park has delivered over 10 million safe and enjoyable rides,” he said in a statement, noting that management of the park reviews the report for recommendations.
“More than anything, we want the Estifanos family to know how deeply we are sorry for their loss and how determined we are to ensure that this never happens again,” he wrote.
The investigation is now forwarded to prosecutors for review and consideration of possible criminal charges.
Inspectors ordered the park closed after the girl’s death while outside coaches were brought in to train staff on how to operate the rides safely. The park has since reopened, but the Haunted Mine Drop ride remains closed.