DENVER (KMGH) – The 6-year-old girl who died after falling 110 feet on a ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Colorado earlier this month was not properly buckled in and was sitting on top of two seatbelts, according to a state investigation released Friday.
The report from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Division of Oil and Public Safety, which oversees amusement park rides, found the two people operating the ride were given indicators that one of the seatbelts was not properly buckled. It goes on to say that they didn’t notice because the girl, Wongel Estifanos, had a belt strap sitting across her lap
The report blames multiple factors for the girl’s death, including multiple operator errors and a lack of proper training and understanding of how the ride’s operator interface worked.
The report says the ride, the Haunted Mine Drop, will remain closed until the division re-permits the ride, which can only happen once the issues raised in the report are addressed. In the aftermath of the incident, the park was forced to close for several days. The state also required that the park provide refresher training to employees who were working on other rides.
The report states that the two operators had been at the park for approximately two months and less then three weeks respectively.
The ride, which drops people 110 feet down a mine shaft, has a safety system that utilizes two different types of seatbelts – one that has a rod and is held by a buckle and is monitored by a touch-screen interface for the ride, and another which “mimics an automotive lap seatbelt,” according to the report, and is not monitored on the screen.
According to the report, the ride won’t work if two seatbelts have been buckled for each of six seats. It will also give operators an error if a rod on the first belt doesn’t lock into place. Operators are required to unbuckle their belts after every ride, so that the next passengers can buckle themselves. The report says that Estifanos didn’t do this as she was riding on the ride. According to the report, Estifanos sat on top buckled belts because no one else had ever sat in her chair on this trip.
Further, according to the report, the operators were not trained on the ride manufacturer’s operating manual. An alarm on the interface sounded because Estifanos’s belt had not been unbuckled from the ride beforehand, and one of the operators checked the rods again and found them to be in their proper place.
The second operator arrived and removed the rods, but did not notice Estifanos sitting on her seatbelts.
“In checking seatbelts, Operator 2 checked Ms. Estifanos’ seatbelts by repeating the same actions as Operator 1 did in the first check,” the report says. “Ms. Estifanos had placed the tail of a seatbelt back across her lap; Operator 2 also did not notice that neither of the seatbelts were positioned across her lap.”
The two operators went back to the ride’s control room, and the interface no longer showed any errors, and one of the operators started the ride.
“Because Ms. Estifanos was not restrained in the seat she became separated from her seat and fell to the bottom of the [Haunted Mine Drop] shaft, resulting in her death,” the report says.
The Garfield County Coroner’s Office said Estifanos died of multiple blunt force injuries.