A new report has confirmed that the child who plunged to her death from one of the rides at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Colorado wasn't wearing a seatbelt.
Following an investigation, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment found that Wongel Estifanos, six years old, sat on her seatbelt when she joined the Haunted Mine Drop. No one from the operators noticed that she wasn't securely strapped to her seat.
The control system would have prevented the ride's dispatch when passengers were not buckled. However, because two of the staff assigned on the Haunted Mine Drop were new and didn't have any training, they released the ride without ensuring that the passengers were safe and secure.
According to CNN, the Haunted Mine Drop, which opened in 2017, is a tower-style ride that drops 110 feet to the ground. It can simulate a freefall as it carries six passengers at a time.
However, since the child was not strapped with her seat belt, she was separated from her seat and fell down the shaft. The report also cited those new operators were focused on the steps to release the ride, distracting them from checking the safety of the passengers.
Haunted Mine Drop Closed
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park has not yet opened the Haunted Mine Drop after the accident on September 5. The state's Department of Labor and Employment said they have yet to reissue the ride's permit.
Steve Beckley, the founder of the adventure park, confirmed that they had received the safety report from the state. He extended his sympathies to the girl's family.
"We want the Estifanos family to know how deeply sorry we are for their loss and how committed we are to making sure it never happens again," Beckley said in a statement.
However, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park should expect to receive a wrongful death lawsuit from the Estifanos family. Their lawyers are in the process of talking to witnesses who may have had some problems and experiences at the Haunted Mine Drop before Wongel died.
The popular ride was last inspected by a third party three months before the accident and was found to be in compliance with all the safety regulations. According to the International Association of Amusement Rides and Attractions, park attraction injuries one in 15.5 million rides taken at a given year. Across 440 facilities in North America, only 1,200 injuries are reported annually.
Who is Wongel?
Wongel visited the park with her family for a brief vacation before the start of school. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park was located in a mountain resort some 40 miles away from Aspen.
Those who know the family described Wongel as "a beautiful, caring, and cheerful girl" who was devoted to Jesus at such an early age. She was supposed to return to the Stetson Elementary School in Colorado Springs after the family holiday.
Reports cited that the amusement park's personnel administered first aid after Wongel fell, but the paramedics who arrived on the scene pronounced her dead. The coroner said that Wongel suffered from multiple blunt force injuries.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park has been in coordination with the Estifanos family since the accident, while the Colorado Springs community launched a GoFundMe page for those Wongel left behind.
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