An 11-year-old girl fatally fell from a Ferris wheel in Wildwood, N.J. on Friday. An eyewitness says Abiah Jones looked over the side of the ride and fainted right before she plunged 100 feet to her death.
Officials say Jones was on the ride alone at the time. She was immediately airlifted to a nearby hospital after the accident but was pronounced dead about an hour later.
The Ferris wheel in question is the Giant Wheel ride at Mariner’s Landing. It was built in 1985 and stands 156-feet high making it one of the largest Ferris wheels on the East Coast. Just this past March, the ride passed inspection and there is no speculation that mechanical failure was an issue.
According to the NY Daily News, officials are still investigating exactly what happened:
“We don’t know if it was a freak accident, or maybe she was looking around, we don’t know,” Wildwood Police Capt. Robert Regalbuto.
The ride has been shut down pending an investigation but the amusement park is still open. Jones was seated in the passenger gondola, which is secured with a double latch. The door of the car opens inward. If Jones got woozy and passed out as a result of seeing how high she was, shouldn’t safety precautions already be in place for times when that happens? It seems that passing out from fear might be something that could happen when people are hundreds of feet above the ground.
Many people are questioning the safety of amusement park at the start of this summer season. But statistics show that death from an amusements park ride is extremely low. Still, parents can panic when their child is involved.
Just this past weekend, I was at Coney Island’s Luna Park with my kids. Some of the rides look pretty rickety and I doubt I’d be OK with my kids going on a few of them. Of course, the old Cyclone looks as old and shoddy as it did when I was a kid but hundreds of people ride it safely every day. There is also a ride called the Human Slingshot that gave me the creeps as I watched from the beach. I saw it catapult kids hundreds of feet into the air. See video of it here. My kids didn’t ask to go any of these and I’m glad, but I’m sure at one point or another they will.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jones’ family, who are living every parent’s worst nightmare.
Do some rides at amusement parks creep you out? Are there any you will not allow your children to ride? Or do you think that once they pass safety regulations, they are fine?
Babble’s Vacation and Travel Safety Guide for Children