A 6-year-old girl who lost her life earlier this month while on a ride at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Colorado was reportedly never strapped into her seat. Investigators learned that the park’s two operators on duty at the time failed to take notice of the monitor that had already alerted them to a seatbelt concern on the ride.

On Sept. 5, Wongel Estifanos went on the Haunted Mine Drop ride but had separated from her seat and fell to the bottom of the pitch-black shaft. Although details on the cause of her death have not yet been released, the young girl’s injuries resulted in her death. 

The ride, which does a 110 foot free-fall plunge down a shaft, requires its operators to buckle the seat belts for each of its six passengers. This allows them to confirm if the restraints are properly placed and secured over their laps. 

According to ABC News, the ride’s manual states that all "passengers cannot be expected to know or correctly execute the safety procedures for this ride,” hence why both operators are asked to follow safety protocols to ensure each passenger is safely restrained in their seats.

A report released last Friday stated that surveillance footage reviewed by investigators from the Colorado Division of Oil and Public Safety showed that the girl sat on a previously unoccupied seat on top of two locked seatbelts. She had been holding the tail of one seatbelt across her lap, which made it appear that the seatbelt was positioned properly.

A seatbelt error on the girl's seat alerted the ride operator, which is a clear indication that a seatbelt was not properly unlocked after the previous ride cycle. The operator returned and checked the seatbelt and buckle multiple times but “did not believe the error because they were convinced the restraint had been cycled," the report said.

The second operator unlocked the seatbelts using its manual switch, which is supposed to clear the ride’s control system. However, he did this without unloading the passengers. By not doing this, they missed out on the fact that the child was not wearing her seatbelt properly. Although, the second operator checked on the girl’s seat, he failed to notice that neither of the seatbelts were positioned across her lap.

With the control panel no longer detecting an error, the second operator proceeded to dispatch the ride. Having been improperly restrained in her seat, Estifanos separated from her seat and fell. 

The report further stated that the ride operators were not fully trained to unbuckle all seatbelts after each ride cycle, although this was supposed to be common practice. It was also noted that the first operator had “inconsistently” done this on earlier rides.

Both operators “did not appear to emphasize the inherent risks of the ride," and failed to follow ride operation procedures. Furthermore, the manufacturer’s manual also does not provide instructions on how operators can properly address crucial ride errors. 

Meanwhile, the Haunted Mine Drop remains closed and its future runs are yet to be determined. 

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