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Operators failed to check seat belt before 6-year-old died on amusement park ride in Glenwood Springs, report says

Wongel Estifanos was sitting on top of a locked seat belt while on the Haunted Mine Drop before she died, investigators found.

Wongel Estifanos, 6, died after an "incident" on a ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on Sept. 5, 2021. (GoFundMe)
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Operators of a Glenwood Springs amusement park failed to ensure a 6-year-old girl was wearing her seat belt before she was killed on an attraction that plunges riders more than 100 feet in three seconds, according to a report released Friday.

Wongel Estifanos, who was visiting Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park with her family earlier this month, was sitting on top of a locked seat belt before she died on the Haunted Mine Drop ride, according to the report by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, which oversees amusement parks across the state.

Because she wasn’t restrained in the seat, Estifanos fell to the bottom of the ride’s shaft, causing her death, according to the report.

The oversight was among the errors that led to the girl’s death, including a lack of safety procedures and inadequate training. Investigators also found that the operators did not have an adequate understanding of the alarms on the control panel, the report said. 

The park’s operators did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to surveillance footage reviewed by investigators, Estifanos placed the tail of the seat belt across her lap. While conducting a safety check, an operator pulled at the tails of the seat belt and did not notice that the seat belt was not fastened properly.

The operator then returned to the control panel, which alerted to a problem with Estifanos’ seat, preventing the ride from dispatching.

The operator returned to check the ride’s restraint system multiple times, the report said, still not noticing that Estifanos did not have her seat belt fastened. A second operator also failed to notice.

The two operators returned to the control room and reset the ride’s seat belt monitors, allowing them to dispatch the ride, the report said.

A forensic pathologist identified multiple blunt force injuries on the girl, according to the Garfield County Coroner’s Office.

The Haunted Mine Drop, which drops six people 110 feet in two to three seconds, will remain closed until a certificate of inspection is submitted, the report said.

Fines for violating amusement rides regulations will be issued, up to $1,000 per violation, the report said. The enforcement document will be issued in the coming weeks. 

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