In a rather surprising development, no criminal charges are being filed in connection with the death of a 6-year old girl at a Glenwood Springs Amusement Park.

No Criminal Charges In Amusement Park Death

Following a review of the case, the 9th Judicial District Attorney's office announced Tuesday that no criminal charges are being filed even though a state investigation determined the death was due to multiple operator errors.

It was September 5, 2021, when 6-year-old Wongel Estifanos died from blunt force injuries after coming out of her seat on the Haunted Mine Drop ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. An investigation revealed the girl was not properly buckled in and fell to her death on the ride that quickly and suddenly drops six passengers more than 100 feet into a mine shaft.

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State Report Cites Operator Errors

According to a report from the Colorado Division of Oil and Public Safety, the ride operators are responsible for fastening and checking two separate seatbelts for each passenger prior to the ride. The report states the operators "took several incorrect actions" prior to dispatching the ride. In October, the amusement park was fined $68,000 and the ride was ordered shut down until it could be re-inspected and employees received proper training.

In making the announcement Tuesday, the District Attorney's office said "there is not a reasonable likelihood of success at trial" and, consequently, it would not criminally charge any person or entity.

The family of Wongel Estifanos filed a wrongful death suit in October and the girl's parent's issued a statement expressing their displeasure with the District Attorney's decision. The family's attorney emailed me the following statement.

Once again our daughter’s life has been treated as cheap and meaningless. First by the amusement park and now by the DA. We never wanted the people who killed our daughter to go to jail. But for the DA to let them off with nothing says our daughter’s life was worth nothing. Justice should be equal. Our little girl should matter as much as a big corporation.

 

What a terrible message to send. That in Glenwood Springs someone can recklessly kill a child and not even get a ticket. The DA tells us there wasn’t even a drug test done of the operators after they killed our daughter. Why not?

 

The DA tells us he knows the killing of Wongel was a “gross deviation from the standard of care”, but that he can’t prove which of the operators did it. That doesn’t make sense to us. We want the full truth. We want justice for our daughter. We want to protect others. The criminal system failed our daughter. We will now go to civil court and prove it on our own.

It's a tragic story that continues to bring pain to a Colorado family. We're hoping they can the answers and resolution they need.

 

[9 News]

The Haunted Mine Drop at Glenwood Caverns

Check out one of the popular attractions at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park by flipping through this photo gallery featuring the Haunted Mine Drop.

Remembering Now Abandoned Colorado Amusement Park

WARNING: Under no circumstances should you enter this property. By doing so you risk bodily harm and/or prosecution for trespassing on private property.

Heritage Square was an amusement park in Golden, Colorado that was open from 1959 to 2018.