Glenwood Caverns haunted mine passed regulatory inspection less than three months before 6-year-old died



In this file photo, the Haunted Mine Drop amusement ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park which opened in July 2017.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park ride on which a 6-year-old girl died Sunday has been certified to meet all safety regulations, according to a statement from the Colorado regulator for amusement parks.

A 6-year-old girl vacationing in Colorado Springs with her family has fallen and died at Haunted Mine Drop Sunday night. The ride, along with all others inspected in the park on June 8, was found to comply with regulations during its last annual inspection by the Worldwide Safety Group in Plant City, Florida. Each of the inspectors for the annual ride was from outside Colorado.

On Tuesday evening, Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire released an update saying he would refuse to release the child’s name “in consultation with the family.”

“The coroner’s office is doing its best to balance the release of information to the public and the confidentiality of families as they mourn the loss of a loved one,” the statement said.

The statement also said that an autopsy had identified “several blunt injuries” to the child, but that the final cause of death was pending completion of a full investigation.

“The role of the coroner’s office is limited to an inquest into the cause and mode of death and the identification of the deceased,” the statement said. “The coroner’s office will not release the final results of the inquest outside the scope of the cause and mode of death. As for the family, the coroner’s office will not participate in any interviews or provide details other than in emailed press releases.

The Petroleum and Public Safety Division, a subdivision of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, regulates amusement park rides, but inspections can be performed by third parties. The division will investigate the Caverns incident, as it does for all incidents in Colorado.

Haavind described the elements of the investigation process, which is expected to take days to weeks. The Department of Petroleum and Public Safety will coordinate with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and the County Coroner.

“We will be reviewing the current state of the ride, relying heavily on the observations of certified third-party inspectors as well as observations and notes from previous safety inspections,” Haavind said. “Interviews with all parties involved will also be considered to determine to the best of our knowledge what happened. We will interview many parties involved, such as inspectors, operators, customers, 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 billed as the first drop ride in the United States to go underground, with a 120-foot shaft dug into Iron Mountain. The ride drops runners 110 feet in less than three seconds, according to the park.

The identity of the victim was not released on Tuesday with an autopsy scheduled by the coroner’s office later in the week.

After initially announcing that the park would be closed on Monday and Tuesday, an update on the park’s website announced the extension of the closure until Thursday. The park did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the status of Haunted Mine Drop.

Audio dispatch gives the chronology of events

The Garfield County coroner said the incident happened around 7:44 p.m. Recording the unverified time from dispatch audio from Broadcastify places the first dispatch conversation at around 7:20 p.m.

“EMS Glenwood Caverns for a party that fell from the well,” said the dispatcher.

A preliminary dispatch discussion indicated that the victim was believed to have fallen 110 feet – the total stated length of the route – while on duty.

First responders got out of the well and administered CPR to the victim and requested that a helicopter landing zone be established at the Transfer Trail parking lot at the base of the mountain. This call was made approximately 13 minutes after the incident was first reported.

Approximately 21 minutes after the first radio communication, the landing zone request was canceled and a response from the coroner was requested.

Shortly after, the victim’s advocate and the Aspen Hope Center death response team were dispatched.

Death co-response group

According to a dispatch conversation, around 20 members of the victim’s extended family were present at the time.

“A lot of very clueless people,” said one commenter on the mailing.

The Aspen Hope Center has deployed its Mobile Crisis and Joint Response Team to address immediate mental health needs. Michelle Muething, executive director of the center, said he had sent three clinicians.

“We know there is a lot of chaos to deal with in these situations,” Muething said.

The center also has a 24-hour crisis line for people in need of mental health consultations. They direct callers to resources for mental health treatment through to in-person assessment. Anyone in trouble as a result of Sunday’s death, or in general, can call 970-925-5858.



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