Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — An attorney representing the family of a 6-year-old girl who fell to her death at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park filed a wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday against the park.

The girl, Wongel Estifanos, was killed on Sept. 5 after falling from a ride at the park. 

report released Sept. 24 detailed multiple errors by park operators. The investigation revealed that operators didn’t notice the little girl was sitting on her two seatbelts instead of being strapped into them before the Haunted Mine Drop ride took off.

During the investigation, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment found that an alarm system warned of a problem on the ride, but the workers had not had enough training to know what to do. A worker then decided to reset the system and sent the ride on its way.

Attorney Dan Caplis, who represents the family, said he does not believe a waiver signed by park guests before entering will infringe on the lawsuit — despite that waiver including language giving up rights to potential lawsuits — because what happened was reckless.

What the lawsuit against Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park says

The lawsuit claims there were “reckless acts” that led to the girl’s death.

The lawsuit alleges there were dramatic warnings about the ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, long before Estifanos’ death.

According to the suit, one parent said there were problems with the Haunted Mine Drop ride three years ago. That parent said, “Wait! Wait!” when she saw an unbuckled teenage boy on the ride.

It was an unbuckled belt on the drop that attorneys say led to the death of Estifanos.

The girl had gone with her family to the park. According to the family’s attorney, she was never buckled in properly, even though alarms were going off.

“They still didn’t look and see they had failed to seatbelt her. They did a workaround the alarm and launched the ride anyway,” Estifanos family attorney Dan Caplis said.

She fell 110 feet to the bottom of a cave when the ride launched.

The lawsuit claims that the park’s operators are “solely responsible” for making sure riders are buckled in. The family says the girl’s uncle trusted those workers were properly securing the child.

The attorney added the park knew that “operators were failing to put seatbelts on some of its riders,” describing what happened as a “felonious killing.”

What is the family suing for

The family says it just wants the truth to be known about what happened to Wongel, saying they are suing for monetary damages and to send a message.

“The importance in the amount of money is to send a message and change bad behavior and to send a message to the entire industry, because experience tells us that nothing changes bad behavior quicker than a jury verdict,” Caplis said.

The family wants the case tried before a jury. They do not want a settlement.

Glenwood Caverns issued a statement on Wednesday, saying the park “is aware of the lawsuit. It would be inappropriate to comment on pending litigation. Our hearts go out to the Estifanos family and those impacted by their loss.”

The company has 30 days to respond in court. A trial could take place within the next year.

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