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State of Colorado fines amusement park for $68,000 after young girl’s death

<i>Chelsea Self/AP/FILE</i><br/>The Haunted Mine Drop is shown in this July 2017 file photo at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs
AP
Chelsea Self/AP/FILE
The Haunted Mine Drop is shown in this July 2017 file photo at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- In addition to a lawsuit filed by the parents of a 6-year-old girl who died at the park, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park faces a $68,000 fine from the state.

On Sept. 5, 2021, Wongel Estifanos died after two ride operators failed to notice she wasn't properly strapped in before beginning the Haunted Mine Drop (HMD). The ride is a drop tower-style ride where six passengers plunge 110 feet into a dimly lit shaft in the ground.

Through an investigation, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment found that Estifanos was not buckled in, and despite the rides system alerting the operators she wasn't buckled, they overrode the system and proceeded with the ride.

According to the documents obtained by 13 Investigates, the Colorado Division of Oil and Public Safety is fining the park for three violations.

Two violations stem from two ride operators failing to operate each ride/device in accordance with Amusement Rides and Devices Regulations. Both violations are fined $1,000.

The third violation states Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park failed to train "all ride operators of the HMD in accordance with these regulations, adopted codes and standards, and any applicable recommendations provided by the Amusement Ride or Device Manufacturer, by not ensuring they used the procedures required in the manufacturer's manual, and not providing adequate training on the Human Machine Interface (HMI) screen and indicator lights."

The regulatory requirement for that fine says all ride operators need to be trained in accordance with regulations, adopted codes and standards, and any applicable recommendations provided by the Amusement Ride or Device manufacture.

That violation fine is $66,000.

Additionally, the Haunted Mine Drop will not be reopened until Glenwood Caverns demonstrates that its training procedures, restraint systems, and operations meet all applicable safety requirements. Once those standards are met, the Division will re-permit the HMD.

Glennwood Caverns has until Nov. 20, 2021, to pay $68,000.

Wednesday, the family of Wongel filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the park.

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Dan Beedie

Dan is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about Dan here.

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Shelby Filangi

Shelby is a digital content producer for KRDO.com. You can learn more about Shelby here.

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