(CBS4)– The report on the deadly accident on the Haunted Mine Drop amusement ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park that claimed the life of 6-year-old Wongel Estifanos has been released. It states that fatal accident was the result of multiple operator errors, including the failure to make sure that the child was restrained.

(credit: Bemni Mekonnen)

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The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Division of Oil and Public Safety released the final report on the fatality on Friday. The investigation revealed several factors, including inadequate training, that caused the accident, and specifically cites:

  • Failure to ensure proper utilization of the passenger restraint system or seatbelts, and
  • A lack of understanding and resolution of the alarm conditions on the control panel.

The investigation revealed that Wongel was not belted into the restraint system when the ride was dispatched. One of the operators did not prepare the seatbelts before allowing Wongel and the other passengers to be seated. The little girl sat on top of the still locked seatbelts on a previously unoccupied seat.

The investigation also identified violations of the Colorado Amusement Rides and Devices Regulations which the agency intends to pursue. Fines and penalties may also be assessed. The enforcement documentation is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

(credit: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park)

The investigation also revealed that “Training for both Operators 1 and 2 did not appear to emphasize the inherent risks of the ride, nor did it include reviewing the manufacturer’s operating manual.”

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Wongel, from Colorado Springs, was vacationing with her family in Glenwood Springs earlier this month. She was on the park’s Haunted Mine Drop which drops riders 110 feet.

(credit: CBS)

The Haunted Mine Drop will remain closed until a re-permit is issued for the ride, which will require the factors that caused the operator error to be addressed and a Certificate of Inspection to be submitted.

Wongel’s family issued this statement through their attorney: The parents of Wongel were provided with the State of Colorado’s findings this
morning. The report confirms that Wongel was killed because of multiple failures by the amusement park and its operators, including the operators’ failure to buckle Wongel into the ride.
The State of Colorado report also confirms that the amusement park is 100% responsible for buckling in all riders. The report states: “Passengers cannot be expected to know or correctly execute the safety procedures for this ride.”
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.
For example, the State’s report says that in 2019 a rider emailed Glenwood Caverns to warn them that the operator had not buckled that customer’s seat belt before preparing to launch the 110 foot drop. Even after the passenger correctly pointed out that he had not been properly buckled in, the operator insisted that he was safe to ride.
The family is asking witnesses to contact their counsel Dan Caplis at http://www.DanCaplisLaw.com or 303-770-5551.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park issued this statement: The owners, management and 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.
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 more than 10 million safe and enjoyable rides.
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.
More than anything, 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.

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The 9th Judicial District Attorney released this statement, “We have not received the final investigation from our local law enforcement regarding the incident which occurred at Glenwood Caverns. I received a communication today from the Leader of the Garfield County Sheriff Investigations Team who indicated they are in the final stages of their investigation and intend to present it to our office soon. However, I cannot give any timeline. In light of the ongoing investigation, I will not have any comments beyond this for now.”

Jennifer McRae