A six-year-old girl who died after falling 110ft from a ride at a Colorado theme park was sitting on the seatbelts instead of wearing them, a report has concluded.
An investigation into the death of Wongel Estifanos revealed ride operators did not prepare the seatbelts on the ride before allowing passengers to be seated.
Wongel, from Colorado Springs, died on September 5 from blunt force injuries after she was ejected from her seat on the Haunted Mine Ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs.
She was on holiday with her family in Glenwood Springs over the US Labor Day weekend.
Her death was “the result of multiple operator errors, including the failure to make sure that the child was restrained”, the report by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Division of Oil and Public Safety showed.
State investigators said the child was sitting on top of two seat belts previously buckled on the ride, instead of wearing them across her lap.
They added that operators failed to pay attention to an alarm system warning them of the issue because they had been hired within the past two months and were not properly trained.
In this case, the two operators did not notice that Estifanos was sitting on the lap seatbelts.
One of the workers reset the system and began to dispatch the ride, investigators said.
The report described how Wongel died after she came out of the ride that plunges six riders about 110ft down into a mineshaft in a “gravity freefall”.
In a statement issued through their lawyer, Wongel’s family said: “The report confirms that Wongel was killed because of multiple failures by the amusement park and its operators, including the operators’ failure to buckle Wongel into the ride.
“The State of Colorado report also confirms that the amusement park is 100 per cent responsible for buckling in all riders.”
The statement continues: “Wongel’s parents are determined to do everything in their power to make sure that no one ever dies this way again.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park/FB)
“As part of this mission they are asking witnesses to come forward, including folks who experienced problems with the Haunted Mine Drop before Wongel was killed on it.”
The investigation identified violations of the Colorado Amusement Rides and Devices Regulations, and enforcement will be pursued.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park issued a statement saying they were “heartbroken” by the tragic incident and said that “safety is, and always has been, our top priority”.