Police dispatch reveals girl, 6, ‘fell out of ride’ as it dropped down 110-ft shaft at Colorado park
A six-year-old girl killed at an amusement park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, had “dropped out” from a ride that saw people fall 110 feet, according to police broadcasting audio.
The girl was with her family at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on Sunday when she was fatally injured during the Haunted Mine Drop ride – a Tower of Terror-style attraction that put riders in a simulated free fall in three seconds or less.
The dispatcher added, “The party is at the bottom of the shaft.”
The Garfield County Coroner’s Office revealed Monday that the child was a 6-year-old girl from Colorado Springs. Her cause of death has not yet been confirmed and officials have not released her identity.
A post about the Haunted Mine Drop ride on the park’s website and a promotional video were removed Monday morning.
The final details came when previous visitors to the attraction claimed that the seat belts were not fastened tight enough during the ride, leaving them fearful for their safety.
The young girl was fatally injured during the Haunted Mine Drop ride – a Tower of Terror-style attraction that plunges riders into a simulated free fall into an underground cavern in three seconds or less.
Police scanner traffic captured on the day of the incident reveals a dispatcher frantically asked for help in the park “for a party that fell from the shaft drive”, adding: “The party is at the bottom of the shaft”
“I rode that ride in June and the young girl leading the ride didn’t seem to know what she was doing,” rider Sarah Akard wrote on Facebook.
“My seat belt wasn’t tight and I felt like I was coming out of the ride.
“I tried to tell her, but they started the ride. I am grateful that I was able to hold back. Prayer for the family and the people on the ride.’
On Monday, it turned out that the dizzying ride was specifically designed to include no shoulder rests.
In a 2017 interview marking the attraction’s opening, designer Stan Checketts said: KDVR that they made the decision to make it “a little more exciting.”
“We don’t do shoulder rests on the side of your head, that makes it a little scarier,” he bragged to the Denver news station at the time.
“Normally on every ride I’ve ever designed and built with my team, I’m the first to ride it,” Checketts revealed in reference to the Mine Drop ride.
But he added: “In this particular case, that’s not true. It’s very unusual for me to be here and not even [have] I’ve ridden it and everyone rides it for me.’
A post about the Haunted Mine Drop ride on the park’s website, as well as a promotional video, were removed Monday morning
The dizzying ride is specially designed without shoulder pads
Guests were also required to sign a waiver before boarding the Mine Drop – and riders under the age of 18 must have their parent or guardian sign the waiver on their behalf.
The waiver, posted on the park’s website, states that participants understand that rides may pose the risk of injury or death.
The document states in part: “INJURY/AND OR DEATH may result” and “THE UNDERSIGNED ASSUM ALL RISKS HEREBY.”
Another sentence reads: “THE UNDERSIGNED understands and agrees that a seat belt IS NOT ANY WARRANTY OF SAFETY.”
A waiver on the park’s website states that participants understand that rides may present the risk of injury or death, explicitly stating “INJURY/AND OR DEATH may result” and that “THE SIGNS understand and agree that a seat belt DOES NOT INCLUDE ANY WARRANTY OF SAFETY.’
Park visitors are required to sign this waiver before going on the Mine Drop – while riders under the age of 18 are expected to have their parent or guardian sign the waiver on their behalf
Such a document will not protect the park from possible criminal charges, depending on the details of the situation, said a lawyer who spoke with KDVR, but it could protect them from civil liability in certain circumstances.
Checketts has designed many similar attractions over the course of his career as a designer, including the similar Stratosphere Big Shot ride in Las Vegas, Nevada.
That ride shoots riders up at high speed before lowering them back down. That ride has shoulder rests and there is no suggestion that it is unsafe.
Details of the young girl’s injuries were not provided, but the coroner’s office has scheduled an autopsy for this week.
Walt Stowe, a spokesman for the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, said Monday morning that his agency is investigating the accident. He declined to go into other details.
A spokeswoman for the Colorado Division of Oil and Public Safety, which regulates amusement park rides, said a state inspector is likely to visit the park on Tuesday.
According to the state website, all amusement parks in Colorado are required to “pass annual third-party inspections and obtain adequate insurance coverage in the event of an accident.”
The tragic incident that happened at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on Sunday is currently under investigation by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office
The park’s general manager, Nancy Heard, released the following statement to: CBS Denver on Monday:
“On the evening of September 5, a fatal accident occurred at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. An investigation is underway.
“We are deeply saddened and ask that you keep the family of the deceased in your thoughts and prayers. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park will be closed on Monday, September 6 and Tuesday, September 7.’