Fun Park Reopens After Ferris Wheel Death

Police think it may have been a freak accident

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Jersey shore boardwalk amusement park that closed after an 11-year-old girl on a class trip tumbled to her death from a moving Ferris wheel reopened Saturday while investigators tried to figure out what caused her fall.

    Abiah Jones was with her classmates from a New Jersey school on Friday afternoon when she plunged about 100 feet, from near the top of the ride, and landed in the passenger loading area, police and amusement park officials said. A medical helicopter was called for, but paramedics at the scene, seeing how grave her injuries were, decided not to wait for it and took her by ambulance to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead about 45 minutes later.

    Abiah -- who was riding the Giant Wheel at Mariner's Landing by herself -- fell into the area where people get on and off the ride, according to police.

    Investigators said that there was no sign of horseplay or anything intentional.  The amusement park reopened Saturday.

    "The exact cause of the incident has not been determined, but at this time does not appear to be mechanical or operational in nature. The incident is under investigation by the appropriate authorities," according to the a statement from the park.

    "We don't know if it was a freak accident, or maybe she was looking around, we don't know," said Wildwood Police Capt. Robert Regalbuto.

    Abiah was from Pleasantville and was at the amusement pier with other kids from her school, PleasanTech Academy.

    Students on other school trips witnessed the fall and aftermath. "All of a sudden I see people rushing towards the Ferris wheel," said high school senior from Ithaca, N.Y. Travis Smith.

    The Ferris wheel was immediately shut down to the public after Abiah's fatal fall. Inspectors rode the wheel late in the afternoon as part of their investigation.

    "The Morey staff and family offer our thoughts and prayers to the family," the family that operates the Piers said in the statement. They decided to shut down all the the rides for the night out of respect for the family. They'll reopen at the regular time Saturday morning, but the Ferris wheel is closed until further notice.

    Friends and people who didn't even know Abiah but were touched by her tragic death, turned to Facebook -- even posting the photo seen below that they say is of the 11-year-old.

    The ride passed its last inspection on March 17, 2011, said Hollie Gilroy with the New Jersey Division of Codes and Standards.

    The giant wheel is one of the largest Ferris wheels on the East Coast. At 156 feet tall, it's about as high as a 10-story building. It's been a huge attraction since 1985.