Death of 6-year-old girl on Glenwood Caverns drop ride blamed on operator error

Posted Friday, September 24, 2021 4:05 PM | Contributed by Jeff

The 6-year-old girl who died after falling out of the Haunted Mine Ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs earlier this month was sitting on the seatbelts instead of wearing them, and operators reset an alarm alerting them of an error before sending the ride on its way, according to a report from the state.

Read more from KUSA/Denver.

Sunday, September 26, 2021 12:35 AM

super7* said:
Yes it happened with Lightnin Loops, But that had to be glaring neglect. IMO

Well, I'm not sure what else you would call what happened here. i would think that in the process of unfastening and refastening the primary belt the operator would have noticed that the movement of the webbing was inhibited by the kid sitting on it. The process of clearing the no-cycle fault should have uncovered the improperly restrained patron.

Seat belts in general are more flimsy and should only be secondary or used in a ride without ejecting forces if primary.

The seat belt used on this ride meets all of the specifications for a Class 5 restraint as described in ASTM F2291-16:6.4.3.8 which would be the version in force at the time of manufacture. It just so happens that it also meets the specifications for a Class 5 restraint as described in ASTM F2291-20:6.4.3.8 which is the current version. The second seat belt is there to meet the requirements of F2291-16:6.4.3.8(8) and 6.4.3.9 which require a secondary restraint in a Class 5 environment.

That said, I am not entirely convinced that a ride of this type actually provides ejection forces. The force on the patron is generally in the Gz direction and ranges from nearly 0Gz to about +3Gz. The real danger here is that when the ride hits the brakes, the patron is hit with that +3Gz which ASTM F2291-16:6.4.3.1-6.4.3.2 and Figure 2 do not regard as a patron ejection force; the referenced diagram would place such a ride squarely in a Class 3 (requiring an adjustable latching restraint for one or more patrons), not the more restrictive Class 5 which the manufacturer has chosen to use. In other words, the restraint chosen by the manufacturer actually exceeds the requirements of the applicable standard for the forces generated by the ride. This choice is understandable, because while the ride does not generate forces that would tend to eject the ride from the seat, if the rider is not positioned properly with his center of mass over the seat, the forces generated will tend to pull the patron downward out of the seat. Basically when the seat hits the brakes, the patron keeps going and ends up landing on the floor. The actual fall distance would only be about 30', but because of the 'head start' of coming down with the seat, the impact would be the equivalent of a fall from the full 110' shaft height.

As for seat belts being "flimsy"...well, the tensile strength of the webbing is on the order of 6,000 lbs, and while a lap bar might be able to do better, I have to wonder what the breaking strength was on those Gerstlauer lap bars circa 2001 that kept breaking.... Although they are not rigid, a seat belt can withstand a lot more force than it will ever see on any amusement ride.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


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Sunday, September 26, 2021 3:48 AM

One can sit on top of a seat belt and appear to be normally seated to the operator.

One cannot sit on a closed lap bar or shoulder harness and look normally seated.

The minimalistic seat belt design and the fact that one could sit on it lead to the operator missing it was not properly secured.

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Sunday, September 26, 2021 11:36 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

And there was a provision for that: the ride logic refused to dispatch the ride in its state and the operator overrode the fault. If you're going to do that, a lapbar isn't the solution.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Sunday, September 26, 2021 3:26 PM

👏🏻 The 👏🏻 fault 👏🏻 was 👏🏻 NOT 👏🏻 overridden 👏🏻 by 👏🏻 the 👏🏻 ride 👏🏻 op 👏🏻


But then again, what do I know?

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Sunday, September 26, 2021 5:53 PM
Rick_UK's avatar

Stan Checketts built this thing, right?


Nothing to see here. Move along.

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Sunday, September 26, 2021 6:07 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

Fault, error, indicator. Whatever. The control system indicated that the restraint was never released. The ride operators didn’t believe it. They “chose to unlock the restraint block using the manual Restraint Release Selector Switch” which reset the indicator. They were too focused on making the light go away and not ensuring everyone was restrained properly.

Last edited by eightdotthree, Sunday, September 26, 2021 6:11 PM
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Sunday, September 26, 2021 8:02 PM
Jeff's avatar

Yeah, you can split hairs if you want, but I can't say the machine was the problem.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, September 27, 2021 3:52 PM

What will be interesting is to see what changes end up being made on the ride. I've got to believe training will change, but I suspect the insurance company will expect something else to be done as well.

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Monday, September 27, 2021 4:14 PM

I don't know this ride. Is it even appropriate for a six year old? I was shocked to read that was the age of the victim. Of course, now that I think about it I was seated next to a five year old on Tower of Terror a few weeks back and she was riding it for the 10th time.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2021 9:58 AM

Jeff said:

Yeah, you can split hairs if you want, but I can't say the machine was the problem.

I get your point. I’m just saying when I hear “override” I think of what happened on Smiler; they put it in manual mode and sent the train off the lift. Here they did technically satisfy the ride system to a no-fault condition. And I agree this is fully on the ride ops, and also on the park for lack of training as to what the error really meant.


But then again, what do I know?

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Tuesday, September 28, 2021 8:11 PM
OhioStater's avatar

wahoo skipper said:

I don't know this ride. Is it even appropriate for a six year old?

It's just so variable. The height limit is only 46 inches; our youngest was already taking laps on Millennium by age 6 (like, 93rd percentile in height, though). Some kids are just little dare devils or a bit more adventurous when it comes to rides.

What is so very sad to contemplate is the amount of time that had to have passed with the fateful car waiting to be dispatched. All that time and opportunity to just simply reach down and physically check the seatbelt, on the very seat that the computer was "not happy" with.

Last edited by OhioStater, Tuesday, September 28, 2021 10:23 PM

Promoter of fog.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2021 6:17 PM

That's what's so infuriating about it. It's an error that I would not expect a completely untrained ride op to make, let alone TWO certified to run the ride. Especially at the point where they corrected the fault. That's the "how do you miss that?" moment. Plus, was there a supervising companion present? And NOBODY noticed? The computer even told them what was wrong!

Are those belts on retractors? Maybe there needs to be a "retractor reset" switch, too. And switch the belts out for something hi-vis. This should never have happened.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Last edited by RideMan, Wednesday, September 29, 2021 6:18 PM

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
_/XXXXXXX\__/XXXXX\/XXXXXXXX\_/XXX\_/XXXXXXX\__/XXX\_/XXX\_/\_/XXXXXX

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