Girl Dies After Fall From Moving Ferris Wheel at New Jersey Boardwalk Amusement Park

WILDWOOD, N.J. -- An 11-year-old girl on a school field trip died Friday after falling about 100 feet from a moving Ferris wheel at New Jersey's Wildwood boardwalk.

The girl fell about 12:30 p.m. from the amusement park ride on a day heavily attended by school children. She was taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital, where she died, Capt. Lynn Frane of the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office said.

The girl's name and hometown were not released. Authorities initially said she was 17.

The girl fell from the upper half of the ride while it was in motion, Wildwood Police Capt. Robert Regalbuto told The Press of Atlantic City. Regalbuto estimated she fell about 100 feet.

The 156-foot-tall Ferris wheel is among rides at Morey's Mariner's Landing Pier. The newspaper said the popular amusement park was heavily attended by children during the pier's annual Education Extravaganza -- a day the park is open and marketed for school students and teachers.

Morey's said in a statement the cause was being investigated. Both Morey's and police said the problem did not appear to be mechanical. Police took photographs of various passenger carts on the Ferris wheel, part of which was covered in white sheets, and were looking for witnesses to the fall.

The Ferris wheel, which was built in 1985, most recently passed an inspection on March 17, according to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

After closing the Ferris wheel and a few others nearby but keeping the rest of the park open throughout the afternoon, the amusement park's owners decided around 4 p.m. to close the entire park for the remainder of the night. It was due to reopen Saturday morning.

Morey said in the statement, "The Morey staff and family offer our thoughts and prayers to the family."

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