Colorado amusement park employees failed to notice that a 6-year-old girl was not fastened into her thrill ride seat before she fell 110 feet to her death earlier this month, according to investigators.
Little Wongel Estifanos was ejected from the Haunted Mine Drop ride in Glenwood Springs while on vacation with her family over Labor Day weekend.
Wongel was sitting on top of two seatbelts that were fastened together — and two newly-hired ride operators didn’t properly check that she was buckled in before launching the doomed ride, state investigators told The Denver Post.
The girl was found dead at the bottom of the ride’s mine shaft. She suffered multiple blunt force trauma.
Investigators found that Wongel had a tail flap from the belt pulled over her lap, making it appear that she was strapped in when the operators made seatbelt checks.
An alarm system warned that the girl’s belt was still fastened from the previous ride, when the seat was unoccupied, but the ride operators were not trained well enough to know how to respond to it, according to the report.
One of the operators reset the system to stop the alarm and set the ride in motion, the investigators said.
“Operators took several incorrect actions and reset the ride seatbelt monitors which allowed them to dispatch the ride,” officials wrote in their report.
Investigators turned their findings over to local prosecutors, who are reportedly weighing charges in the tragic accident. Violations and fines are also expected to be levied, the Denver Post reported.
“The report makes it clear this is the fault of the park, not the fault of the rider,” family attorney Dan Caplis reportedly said.
“The park was fully responsible to ensure everyone was restrained. This is not one of those rides where the rider is responsible for anything, including buckling themselves in. The park is supposed to do all of that. The report makes it clear that this could have been so easily prevented.”
Investigators said they were contacted by someone who was also not fastened in correctly in 2019, but was able to convince the operators not to start the ride.
The future of the attraction, billed as the world’s first freefall drop to go underground, was “undetermined,” apologetic park officials told the paper.