A Colorado theme park ride where a six-year-old girl fell 110 feet to her death was specifically designed without shoulder restraints, in a bid to make the dramatic drop ‘a little bit more scary.’
The child died on Sunday after falling from the Haunted Mine Drop at the Glenwood Caverns theme park.
Questions were being asked as to how a young child was allowed to board the ride, which was created to provide a wild experience.
Previous visitors to the attraction claimed that safety belts on the ride were not attached tight enough, leaving them fearful for their safety.
‘I rode that ride in June and the young girl running the ride didn’t seem to know what she was doing,’ rider Sarah Akard wrote on Facebook.
‘My safety 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’m thankful I was able to hold myself in. Prayers to the family and those on the ride.’
Stan Checketts, who designed the ride, told
A post about the Haunted Mine Drop ride on the park’s website, as well as a promotional video, were deleted on Monday morning
The vertigo-inducing ride was specifically designed to not include shoulder restraints
The ride takes about 2.5 seconds and drops 110 feet.
‘We don’t put shoulder restraints on the side of your head, which makes it a little bit more scary,’ he bragged to the Denver news outlet at the time.
‘Usually as a rule, every ride that I’ve ever designed with my team and built with my team, I’m the first one to ride it.
‘In this particular case, that’s not true. It’s very unusual for me to be here and not even [have] ridden it yet and everybody’s getting to ride it ahead of me.’
Checketts created and later sold S&S Sansei, one of the biggest amusement ride design manufacturers in the world.
The company has about 150 tower drop rides internationally, most recently in China.
Josh Hays, the company’s director of sales and marketing, said they all have shoulder restraints.
He explained that the Haunted Mine Drop is a free-fall ride, while his company’s tower drops are all propelled by pneumatics.
‘All of our towers have shoulder restraints,’ Hays said.
‘When it comes to safety we don’t want to reinvent the wheel when we have a design that works really well.’
Hays said modern rides cannot operate if any of their safety features are not properly affixed.
‘All our rides are electronically monitored to know if a restraint is improperly fastened,’ he said.
‘There are redundancies. A ride cannot be dispatched without all the restraints checked and verified, manually and electronically.’
A guest of the park who rode the Haunted Mine Drop just hours before the incident occurred told
‘There are two seatbelts per person, and I thought I had buckled both of mine in,’ said Marybeth Riegel Urrutia.
‘The operator of the ride went around the corner to start the ride, but quickly reappeared because my second buckle was not secured all the way.
‘I joked ‘hey that’s important, thank you for double checking.’
‘So if it helps Glenwood at all, they do double check the seatbelts. My understanding is the ride won’t start until everyone is secured properly.’
Guests were also required to sign a liability waiver before getting on the Mine Drop – and riders younger than 18 are supposed to have their parent or guardian sign the waiver on their behalf.
The waiver, posted on the park’s website, states that participants understand rides can pose the risk of injury or death.
The document states in part, ‘INJURIES/AND OR DEATH may result’ and ‘THE UNDERSIGNED hereby ASSUME ALL RISKS.’
Another sentence reads, ‘THE UNDERSIGNED understand and agree that a seat belt IS IN NO WAY A GUARANTEE OF SAFETY.’
A waiver posted on the park’s website states that participants understand rides can pose the risk of injury or death, explicitly saying ‘INJURIES/AND OR DEATH may result’ and that ‘THE UNDERSIGNED understand and agree that a seat belt IS IN NO WAY A GUARANTEE OF SAFETY.’
Parkgoers are required to sign this liability waiver before getting on the Mine Drop – whereas riders younger than 18 are supposed to have their parent or guardian sign the waiver on their behalf
Such a document won’t protect the park from potential criminal charges, depending on the details of the situation, said a lawyer who spoke with KDVR, but it can protect them against civil liability in certain circumstances.
Checketts has designed a host of similar rides over the course of his career as a designer, including the similar Stratosphere Big Shot ride in Las Vegas, Nevada.
That ride shoots riders upward at a rapid speed before lowering them back down. That ride has shoulder restraints, and there is no suggestion that it is unsafe.
Police scanner traffic captured on the day of the incident
She adds: ‘Patient will be a 6-year-old female and she fell approximately 110 feet.
‘Unknown which part of the ride the patient fell from, believe the ride was in operation when the child fell from it.’
A first responder later says: ‘They are doing CPR down there right now.’
He later adds: ‘Request coroner response’, indicating that the girl had died
The audio also reveals that the girl’s extended family were at the scene.
The first responder says: ‘I need another sheriff’s deputy to the scene to help us out with parents, and can I request a victims’ advocate if one is available.’
He adds: ‘There’s an extended family of about 20 people up here, a lot of very distraught people.’
The Garfield County Coroner’s Office confirmed the girl was from from Colorado Springs.
Her cause of death has not yet been confirmed, and officials have not released her identity.
The young girl was fatally injured on the Haunted Mine Drop ride – a Tower of Terror-style attraction that plunges riders 110 feet in a simulated freefall into an underground cavern in three seconds or less
Police scanner traffic captured on the day of the incident reveals a dispatcher frantically requested assistance at the park ‘for a party that fell out of the shaft ride,’ adding, ‘The party is at the bottom of the shaft’
Specifics 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 his agency is investigating the accident. He would not elaborate on other details.
Inspection records released on Tuesday show all the park’s rides, including the Haunted Mine Drop, passed inspection by Worldwide Safety Group in Plant City, Florida, each year since 2019.
According to the state website, all Colorado amusement parks are required to undergo ‘annual third-party inspections and obtained adequate insurance coverage in the event that an accident occurs.’
The tragic incident that occurred at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on Sunday is currently being investigated by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office
The park’s general manager, Nancy Heard, told
‘We are deeply saddened and ask that you please keep the family of the deceased in your thoughts and prayers.
‘Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park will be closed Monday, September 6 and Tuesday, September 7.’
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