‘She was a gift from God’: Colorado Springs family mourns daughter killed on amusement park ride

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The burial service for the six-year-old Colorado Springs girl who died at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park was held on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

It was a private ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery for Wongel Estifanos who died over Labor Day Weekend while on the Haunted Mine Drop ride. Her family is originally from Ethiopia and Wongel means Gospel in English.

“When you meet her it was always good news. She was obedient, she was inquisitive, always joyful,” Bemnetayehu Mekonnen said.

Mekonnen has known the Estifanos family for three years. They study the bible together. He has been by the family’s side ever since the tragedy.

“They are dizzy with griefs vertigo, tormented by what happened that day and hoping that this is a bad dream and that they’ll wake and she’ll be there,” Mekonnen said.

The unthinkable happened while the family took their first trip since the pandemic.

“Because it was the labor day weekend they thought it would be the perfect time to do a getaway trip and have fun with their kids,” Mekonnen added. “She was daddy’s little girl and her mother loved her to death.”

The family and friends are remembering Wongel as the cheerful girl who loved to swim, paint, and watch her favorite movie “Frozen.” Wongel was in the first grade at Stetson Elementary School. With support from the community and their faith the family knows they’ll get through this dark time.

“Joy shared is joy doubled, and grief shared is grief halved so when you are going through this journey with someone they know they are not going at it alone really helps,” Mekonnen said.

Wongel reminding them that tomorrow is not promised to make the most of every opportunity like she did.

“She lived life to the fullest, it’s not how long you live, it’s how well you live the time you’ve been given,” he said.

The family is asking for prayers during this difficult time. The Estifanos family has set up a GoFundMe Account to help pay for funeral costs.

According to Coroner Robert Glassmire, an autopsy was performed by the Garfield County Coroner’s Office contract forensic pathologist. The forensic pathologist identified multiple blunt force injuries. The final cause and manner of death are pending the investigation.

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