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Family mourns 6-year-old girl who died on amusement park ride

Wongel Estifanos was riding the 110-foot Haunted Mine Drop at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In a time of life that's supposed to be full of joy, for the family of Wongel Estifanos, right now, it is only full of sorrow.

"They can't even say a word to be honest," Bemni Mekonnen said.

Mekonnen is friends with the family of the girl who died on an amusement park ride in Glenwood Springs on Sept. 5.

"Ever since COVID started, they haven't taken any family vacation, so they thought this Labor Day weekend would be the perfect time to do it," Mekonnen said. 

Wongel was riding the Haunted Mine Drop which plummets 110 feet at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. The park reopened Sept. 11, but the Haunted Mine Drop remains closed as investigators try to figure out exactly what happened.

"It's something you can't imagine," Mekonnen said.

He says her parents are gripped in mourning and Mekonnen has become their voice as the family spokesperson.

"It was very difficult to see them. You don't know what to say. Your heart bleeds for them," Mekonnen said.

Wongel leaves behind a 2-year-old brother and her parents Estifanos Dagne and Rahel Negussie. Mekonnen said they lived in the Denver area for years before moving to Colorado Springs about three years ago. He said the family still attends an Ethiopian Church in Aurora.

"She has her whole life ahead of her and this happens, yeah, you're world stops," Mekonnen said.

He describes Wongel as an outgoing first grader at Stetson Elementary School in Colorado Springs.

"She has lots of hobbies. She enjoys swimming, painting, and drawing. She loves the movie Frozen. Elsa is her favorite character," Mekonnen said.

Mekonnen lost his own wife 9 years ago and said he will try to guide the family through their grief. He said the family is also being supported by their church community.

"You have to share in someone's burden in times like these otherwise, it'll be too much," Mekonnen said.

The family has started a GoFundMe to page help with funeral expenses. If you want to find out more, click here.

The family will hold a burial ceremony on Tuesday.

"I wish there was a way we could bring her back, honestly," Mekonnen said. "When you see the pain and anguish they're going through, you would do anything."

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