Many people from the Philadelphia area venture to the Jersey shore during the summer months for fun on the amusement piers. However, on June 3, the fun came to an abrupt halt when an 11-year-old girl fell from a 156-foot-high Ferris wheel on Wildwood boardwalk and died.
This week, it was reported that the parents of the girl have retained a law firm to conduct an investigation into the accident and may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The girl had been alone in the gondola when the accident occurred, and as of yet, there are no witnesses who reported seeing the actual fall. According to a report released this week by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, it is possible that the girl could have been kneeling or standing on the seat or leaning out too far prior to the fall.
The family’s legal team plans to assess how exactly the accident happened and the accident record of Morey’s Piers, which operates the Ferris wheel on Morey’s Mariner’s Landing Pier.
Additionally, the legal team will study the safety requirements for Ferris wheels at other amusement parks to see if Morey’s had properly protected its riders.
“Someone is responsible. I don’t want to point any fingers,” the girl’s father said.
Since the accident, lawmakers in New Jersey have recommended that rides going to such high heights require two riders per compartment. The girl’s parents said that they are pleased with this decision, but also think that lawmakers should require the riders to be strapped in as well.
“I work in construction. If I’m more than six feet off the ground, I have to wear a safety harness,” the girl’s father told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “If you’re 150 feet in the air, there should be some sort of safety harness.”
Following the accident, the state’s Carnival Ride Safety Unit evaluated the Ferris wheel and found no mechanical problems.
The 11-year-old had been at the pier with her school as a reward for being a member of the honor roll. She had hopes of being a lawyer when she grew up, her father said.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Parents in Ferris wheel death have lawyers on case,” James Osborne, 6/15/2011.