6-year-old Wongel Estifanos tragically fell to her death while riding a Haunted Mine Drop ride at the Glenwood Caverns amusement park in Glenwood Spring.
What was supposed to be a fun day out with her family, turned out to be the last for a little girl from Colorado Springs. 6-year-old Wongel Estifanos tragically fell to her death while riding a Haunted Mine Drop ride at a Colorado theme park. Per Daily Mail, Estifanos' extended family revealed that they were at the Glenwood Caverns amusement park in Glenwood Spring when the tragedy happened. Apparently, the student Stetson Elementary School student slipped out of the ride and plunged nearly 110 feet to her death at the free-fall attraction, according to KRDO. When the Haunted Mine Drop first opened in 2017, its designer Stan Checketts told KDVR that it was specifically designed without shoulder restraints just so the dramatic drop felt "a little bit more scary (sic)."
That being said, details surrounding the young girl's death on Sunday, September 5, remain sparse. Many questions surrounding the safety of the ride have been raised, with some asking how a young child was even allowed to board a ride that was specifically created to provide a wild experience. People who previously visited the attraction claimed that the safety belts of the ride were not attached tight enough and that it left them fearing for their safety. "'I rode that ride in June and the young girl running the ride didn't seem to know what she was doing," shared Sarah Akard on Facebook, according to Daily Mail.
"My safety belt wasn't tight and I felt like I was coming out of the ride. I tried to tell her but they started the ride. I'm thankful I was able to hold myself in. Prayers to the family and those on the ride," she continued. The ride's designer, Checketts, initially told KDVR that the omission of shoulder restrains is supposed to make the rise "a little bit more exciting." He also explained, "Usually as a rule, every ride that I've ever designed with my team and built with my team, I'm the first one to ride it. In this particular case, that's not true. It's very unusual for me to be here and not even [have] ridden it yet and everybody's getting to ride it ahead of me."
Apparently, Checketts created and sold S&S Sansei, which is one of the biggest amusement ride design manufacturers in the world. The company owns around 150 tower drop rides all over the world. Its director of sales and marketing, Josh Hays, revealed that all of the rides are supposed to have restraints on them. Speaking to The Denver Post, Hays added that the Haunted Mine Drop, a free-fall ride, was made using a different design to that of the company's, which has tower drops propelled by pneumatics. "All of our towers have shoulder restraints. When it comes to safety we don't want to reinvent the wheel when we have a design that works really well. All our rides are electronically monitored to know if a restraint is improperly fastened. There are redundancies. A ride cannot be dispatched without all the restraints checked and verified, manually and electronically," he explained.
Before boarding the ride, participants are required to sign a liability waiver saying they understand the risk of injury or death that the ride poses. For guests below the age of 18, their parents or guardians are supposed to sign on their behalf. Although the document can protect the company against civil liability in certain circumstances, it cannot escape potential criminal charges, depending on the outcome of the findings. An investigation into the death of the youngster has been launched and will take weeks before a report is ready, revealed officials while speaking to CBS. A GoFundMe page has also been created to raise $50,000 in the hopes of covering "the funeral cost and other expenses of the family at this difficult time."
Cover image source: GoFundMe | Wongel Estifanos