Glenwood Caverns’ Haunted Mine Drop passed regulations inspection less than three months before death of 6-year-old
Park will remain closed Wednesday and Thursday; coroner declines to release name of child
The Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park ride on which a 6-year-old girl died Sunday was certified compliant with all safety regulations, according to a statement from Colorado’s regulatory body for amusement parks.
A 6-year-old girl vacationing from Colorado Springs with her family fell and died on the Haunted Mine Drop on Sunday evening. The ride, along with all others inspected at the park June 8, was found in compliance with regulations in its most recent annual inspection by Plant City, Florida-based Worldwide Safety Group. Each of the inspectors for the ride’s annual inspection have been from outside of Colorado.
On Tuesday evening, Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire released an update stating he would decline to release the name of the child “in consultation with the family.”
“The coroner’s office does their best to balance the release of information to the public and the privacy of families while they grieve the loss of a loved one,“ the release states.
The release also stated that an autopsy identified “multiple blunt force injuries” to the child but that the final cause of death is pending the completion of a full investigation.
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“The coroner’s office role is limited to a cause and manner of death inquiry and the identification of the deceased,” the release states. “The coroner’s office will not be releasing final investigation results outside the scope of the cause and manner of death. In respect to the family, the coroner’s office will not participate in any interviews or provide details outside of emailed press releases.”
The Division of Oil and Public Safety, a subdivision of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, regulates amusement park rides, but inspections can be conducted by third parties. The division will lead in the investigation of the Caverns incident, as it does with all incidents in Colorado.
Haavind outlined elements of the investigation process, which is estimated to take days to weeks. The Oil and Public Safety department will coordinate with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and the county Coroner.
“We will look at the current condition of the ride, relying heavily on certified third party inspector’s observations as well as observations and notes from prior safety inspections,” Haavind said. “Also reviewed will be interviews with all parties involved to determine to the best of our knowledge what occurred. We will be interviewing many parties involved, such as inspectors, operators, patrons, manufacturers, etc.”
Haavind added that a full report on the investigation could take “several months to compile.”
The Haunted Mine Drop opened on July 31, 2017. It was touted as the first drop ride in the United States to go underground, with a 120-foot shaft dug into Iron Mountain. The ride drops riders 110 feet in under three seconds, according to the park.
The victim’s identity remained unannounced on Tuesday with an autopsy scheduled by the coroner’s office later in the week.
After initially announcing the park would be closed Monday and Tuesday, an update on the park’s website announced the extension of the closure through Thursday. The park did not immediately respond to request for comment on the status of Haunted Mine Drop.
Dispatch audio gives timeline of events
The Garfield County Coroner said the incident happened around 7:44 p.m. Unverified time logging from dispatch audio sourced from Broadcastify places the first dispatch conversation at around 7:20 p.m.
“EMS Glenwood Caverns for a party that fell out of the shaft ride,” the dispatcher said.
Preliminary dispatch discussion reported it was believed the victim fell from 110 feet — the full listed length of the ride — while it was in operation.
First responders descended the shaft and administered CPR on the victim and called for a helicopter landing zone to be established at the Transfer Trail parking lot at the base of the mountain. That call was made around 13 minutes after the first report of the incident.
Around 21 minutes after first communication on the radio, the landing zone request was canceled and a coroner response was requested.
Shortly thereafter, the victim’s advocate and fatality co-response team from Aspen Hope Center was dispatched.
Fatality co-response group
According to dispatch conversation, around 20 extended family members of the victim were present at the time.
“A lot of very distraught people,” a responder said over dispatch.
The Aspen Hope Center deployed its mobile crisis and co-response team to assist with immediate mental health needs. Michelle Muething, executive director of the center, said it sent three clinicians.
“We know there’s a lot of chaos to manage in those situations,” Muething said.
The center also has a 24-hour crisis line for people in need of mental health consultation. They direct callers toward resources for mental health treatment up to in-person evaluation. Anyone struggling in the aftermath of Sunday’s death, or in general, can call 970-925-5858.
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Mountain Rescue Aspen had a busy day Thursday responding to two separate incidents.