The 6-year-old woman who died on a experience at a Colorado amusement park earlier this month was by no means strapped into her seat — and two operators failed to note even after a monitor alerted them to a seatbelt security subject — earlier than the experience plunged 110 ft, in line with a state investigation.
Wongel Estifanos was visiting Glenwood Caverns Journey Park, situated atop Iron Mountain in Glenwood Springs, together with her household on Sept. 5 when she went on the Haunted Mine Drop experience, a free-fall drop down a pitch-black shaft.
After reviewing video surveillance and working manuals, investigators with the Colorado Division of Oil and Public Security decided that when Wongel received on the experience, she sat in a beforehand unoccupied seat on high of two already-locked seatbelts, and that “a number of operator errors” and “insufficient coaching” contributed to the deadly accident, in line with a report launched Friday.
The woman was solely holding the tail of 1 seatbelt throughout her lap, however when checking her seat, a experience operator “didn’t discover that the seatbelts weren’t positioned throughout her lap,” in line with the report.
The experience’s management panel alerted the operator to an error with one of many seatbelts on Wongel’s seat, indicating that that seatbelt had not been correctly unlocked after the earlier experience cycle, in line with the report. The operator returned “a number of occasions” to examine the seatbelt and buckle it to no avail, however “didn’t imagine the error as a result of they had been satisfied the restraint had been cycled,” the report acknowledged.
A second experience operator then unlocked the seatbelts utilizing a handbook change, clearing the error on the experience’s management system, “with out unloading passengers to find out what the problem was,” the report acknowledged. This choice didn’t resolve the issue — that Wongel was not carrying the seatbelts — and demonstrated that the operator “didn’t have a whole understanding” of the management system’s security indicators, in line with the report.
The second operator additionally checked the woman’s seatbelts however “didn’t discover that neither of the seatbelts had been positioned throughout her lap,” in line with the report.
With no error on the management panel, the second operator was then in a position to dispatch the experience.
“As a result of Ms. Estifanos was not restrained within the seat she grew to become separated from her seat and fell to the underside of the [Haunted Mine Drop] shaft, leading to her demise,” the report acknowledged.
Operators weren’t formally skilled to unbuckle all seatbelts following every experience, although it was frequent apply and one which the primary operator carried out “inconsistently” on earlier rides, in line with the report.
The operators are imagined to buckle the seatbelts for every of the experience’s six passengers and ensure the restraints are over their laps, per the producer’s working handbook, as “passengers can’t be anticipated to know or appropriately execute the protection procedures for this experience,” the report acknowledged. Each operators didn’t comply with these procedures, in line with the report.
The report additionally decided that the operators’ coaching “didn’t seem to emphasise the inherent dangers of the experience,” and that the producer’s working handbook “doesn’t instruct operators on easy methods to correctly handle errors.”
The Haunted Mine Drop is presently closed, and future plans for the experience are “undetermined,” the amusement park stated.
“Security is, and all the time has been, our high precedence,” Glenwood Caverns Journey Park founder Steve Beckley stated in an announcement following the discharge of the report. “Since opening our first experience simply over 15 years in the past, Glenwood Caverns Journey Park has delivered greater than 10 million protected and pleasurable rides.”
“We now have been working intently with the Colorado Division of Oil and Public Security and unbiased security specialists to assessment this incident,” he continued, noting that the amusement park will assessment the report “rigorously for suggestions.”
“Greater than something, we wish the Estifanos household to know the way deeply sorry we’re for his or her loss and the way dedicated we’re to creating certain it by no means occurs once more,” he added.
In an announcement to Denver ABC affiliate KMGH, Dan Caplis, an lawyer for the Estifanos household, stated that Wongel’s mother and father had obtained the report and known as on individuals who have “skilled issues” with the Haunted Mine Drop to come back ahead.
“Wongel’s mother and father are decided to do every part of their energy to guarantee that nobody ever dies this fashion once more,” stated Caplis, who informed the station he intends to file a lawsuit in opposition to the park on behalf of the household.
ABC Information’ Will McDuffie contributed to this report.
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