Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, where a six-year-old girl fell to her death from the haunted mine drop, has had other mishaps and injuries in the past, including at least two children hospitalized after being thrown from roller coaster cars in various incidents. State documents show.
Six-year-old Wongel Estifanos died after falling 110 feet from a ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Haunted Mine Drop Ride passed all safety inspections, but questions remain about the Colorado Springs girl’s death
Officials with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Oil and Public Safety are now investigating the death of Wongel Estifanos, an elementary school student from Colorado Springs on Sept. 5, whose body fell 30 meters from another drive in the park, the Haunted. Mein Manhole. An autopsy revealed blunt violence on the girl’s body.
State records show that this is not the first time an accident while driving in the park has led state officials to investigate.
The state temporarily closed the Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Cavern after the ride failed a speed test three days after a 10-year-old boy was thrown from a roller coaster car on June 20, 2010. The state pulled back after the adventure park convinced state officials that the test was flawed due to incorrect route measurements. In that incident, the child was injured after being thrown from the roller coaster car into rocks, documents say. The child, with his face soaked in blood, then went up the tracks to the top of the roller coaster in search of help, according to the accident report.
The 2010 victim’s father reported to the state that Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park staff told him his child was okay, documents show. He said that when he asked if they were qualified to conduct emergency services, a condition report said staff admitted they were not.
“Don’t tell me my (child) is fine if you are not qualified to do so,” the father told the park staff.
For nearly three months, officials from the Colorado Division of Oil and Public Safety, the state agency that regulates amusement park rides, raised concerns with the owners of Glenwood Caverns about whether the Alpine Coaster needed a new restraint system, the documents show.
During this investigation, the adventure park owners promised to add another worker at the head of the Alpine Coaster ride to make sure the seat belts are secured. The adventure park owners at the time claimed they had a good track record of safety and found that the park hosted around 700,000 riders with a single ejection.
Colorado Springs girl who died at Glenwood Springs Amusement Park identified
But state officials determined at the time that this wasn’t the only ejection from an Alpine Coaster car. Records showed that in 2007 a parent and daughter were tossed from an Alpine Coaster into a nearby fence. The two got back in the car and finished the drive, but were later rushed to hospital for treatment, according to a health summary report. The impact was so severe that the child’s shoes, which appeared to be open, had come off, the documents say. According to an accident report filed with the state, the child needed a leg brace and sling before being transported to the hospital.
In the 2010 incident, the state’s investigation found that the Alpine Coaster was made with the proper restraints and no further action was required.
State officials concluded that they “could not determine whether the seat belt was removed from the injured passenger or whether the operator did not check the seat belt before the passenger exited the upper terminal”.
Details of the investigation were taken from government documents obtained by The Gazette through a request under the Colorado Open Records Act. The state released hundreds of pages in response to requests for open records, but withheld inspection reports and other documents about the Haunted Mine Drop drive, claiming they were part of the ongoing death investigation. The state has blackened the names, ages, and genders of those involved in the incidents.
Nancy Heard, identified on state documents as the attraction manager of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, declined to answer questions and hung up when a reporter from The Gazette called her.
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Other issues identified in the documents released to the newspaper included an incident in which a woman broke her back in August 2011 after failing to brake and instead accelerating her car on the Alpine Coaster and hitting another car that stood at the end of the route. A state investigator found that the benefactor was to blame.
In 2007 alone, investigators in Glenwood Caverns documented four injuries, three of them on the Alpine Coaster. In 2015, a collision between two Alpine Coaster cars resulted in a “minor rupture” of a driver’s vortex, according to government records. On the Tivoli Coaster in 2017, a child’s finger was trapped on a restraint lock, resulting in an operation. One person who rode the Alpine Coaster in 2011 reported injuries to their right thumb and forefinger and said they “rode along, took a turn and we kind of leaked”.
Four more collisions were reported on the Alpine Coaster in 2012.
Records show a cable nearly hit a customer after a drive chain broke on the park’s Giant Swing in August 2007. Another person suffered arm and shoulder pain after working to protect the cable and other parts from the broken chain from being hit. That ride was replaced in 2010 with a Giant Canyon Swing, which reaches a top speed of 50 mph while perched on the edge of a 1,300-foot cliff (about the height of the Empire State Building) over the Colorado River, according to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park website.
The drives at Glenwood Caverns consistently passed the annual inspections carried out by outside inspectors, records show.
Jonathan Carrick, an inspector, said in a 2008 report to Heard, the park’s attractions manager, that he “really liked your facility.” However, he found a few issues to consider, from poor access and tripping hazards in work areas to non-compliant safety rails.
Another inspector, Carl Finocchiaro of Ponderosa Associates, stated in an April 2011 report that he had reviewed the park’s bungee jumping system and found it “fit for purpose”.
“A comprehensive structural assessment of the bungee tower foundation and guy anchoring was outside the scope of this assessment,” wrote Finocchiaro. “This review also did not include the zipline attraction, which is built into the same structure that facilitates the bungee jumping structure.”
He concluded, “In my opinion, the components of the bungee jumping attraction are sufficient for the intended application, which is a bungee jumping attraction. In addition, the attraction complies with the various standards for rides and attractions issued by the American Society for Testing and Materials. “
State officials issued a $ 30,500 violation in 2010, finding that Glenwood Caverns had installed its Frog Hopper ride without a permit. Records show that Heard, the park’s attraction manager, asked for indulgence for this violation for the ride, which soars 20 feet in the air and then gradually falls off.
“We have come a long way in our preventive maintenance and logging over the past two years, and have worked valiantly to meet the required standards,” Heard wrote to state officials. The final outcome of the alleged permit violation was not included in the state records made available to The Gazette.