Sunday, December 5, 2021

Family of 6-year-old girl who died at Glenwood Caverns sues amusement park

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Courtesy of the Estifanos family.

Wongel Estifanos in 2020 family Christmas photo. Estifanos was then 5 years old.

The family of a 6-year-old girl, who died during a trip to Glenwood Caverns on Labor Day weekend, filed a lawsuit against the park on Wednesday over what they said was the recklessness and improper training that led to the wrongful death of Vongel Estifanos.

Wongel died on September 5 after boarding a ghost mine at Garfield County Amusement Park. The operators did not realize that the girl was sitting on the seat belts and ignored the alarm that should have warned them of the problem. Operators rebooted the system to bypass the alarm and sent six passengers 110 feet into a tunnel that looked like a mine, state investigators found.

The Vongel, who was not wearing his seatbelt, fell from his seat and died. According to the family’s lawsuit, she visited the park with her family while on vacation from Colorado Springs and went on a trip with her uncle and other relatives.

“When the train stopped at the bottom of the mine, Vongel’s uncle checked to see if Vongel liked the ride. He was horrified to see that Wongel was out of place, ”the lawsuit says. “Then Uncle Vongel saw Vongel’s broken body at the bottom of the mine.”

Her relatives screamed and tried to free themselves, but could not. They were dragged back to the top of the attraction, where they desperately sought help.

A government investigation revealed that Wongel died due to multiple driver errors and insufficient training. Two operators were hired several weeks prior to the incident.

A government investigation also found that one person warned the park in August 2019 about a weak check of seat belts during a trip, but the lawsuit alleges that the park was warned by another customer in 2018 and that the amusement park did not disclose this complaint. state.

This woman sent an email to the park in July 2018 detailing an incident in which a teenager was not wearing a seat belt at the crash site of a haunted mine, but the operators left the area and were still ready to start the ride, even when the passengers shouted, “ Wait, wait! “” According to the claim.

“This mother told Glenwood Caverns that when the operators came out, ignoring
their cries for help ‘… I sat, knowing that the floor was about to roll away with him
not fastened. I realized that the ride was faster than free fall, so it was immediately
thinking about how to try and protect my little child from what was supposed to be big
a shaking body that was about to collapse on our heads, ”the lawsuit says.

According to the lawsuit, the operators returned, apologized and buckled the teenager with their seat belts. In 2018, the park’s personnel manager told the concerned mother that they would “retrain” and “take all necessary steps to make our work safer,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit says Glenwood Caverns did not disclose information about the 2018 incident to state investigators, although the park was required to share all complaints about the trip with investigators. The Haunted Mine Drop has been in operation since 2017.

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