COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– A Colorado Springs family is grieving the loss of their little girl, Wongel Estifanos, after a family trip to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park ended in tragedy.

(credit: Bemni Mekonnen)

“She’s not supposed to die at this age she is only six, the parent is not supposed to bury their child,” Bemni Mekonnen said.

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Mekonnen is a close friend of the family and was asked by 6-year-old Wongel‘s parents to share with the community more about their little girl.

“She was a social butterfly,” he said. “Once you meet her, you just never forget who she is.”

That captivating charm, captured in every photo of Wongel, memories that Mekonnen says her family is now clinging to for comfort.

“Her dad, he can’t say a word he just cries, hoping and wishing she would come back,” he said.

Her mother, he says, wants everyone to know just how special her little girl was.

“She’s just been talking about her the entire time, about her little princess, her angel, and all of the things they’ve done together. Those memories and she’s just holding on to those desperately,” he said.

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(credit: Bemni Mekonnen)

Mekonnen says Wongel’s parents, Rahel and Estifanos, have been in a state of disbelief since losing their daughter. Wongel was vacationing with her parents when she died on the park’s Haunted Mine Drop, a ride that plunges around 110-feet at 96 feet per second down a 120-foot mine shaft. That family vacation had been put off because of the pandemic.

“They haven’t gone anywhere in two years. And it was supposed to be a joyous occasion, a fun getaway and it turned into the ultimate tragedy,” Mekonnen said.

A tragedy that has the family of faith now desperately searching for answers.

“They are asking God, ‘Why did this happen?’ It doesn’t make any sense,” Mekonnen said.

(credit: Bemni Mekonnen)

While he says there is still so much to learn about what exactly happened, he says the family is focused first on mourning their daughter and how they want the world to remember her.

“She’s the personification of it’s not how long you live, it’s how well you lived, the life you have been given and she inspires me and reminds me that tomorrow is not promised,” Mekonnen said

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Friends of the family have set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs and other expenses.

Karen Morfitt