WILDWOOD — Investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy and toxicology testing as they continue to determine what caused an 11-year-old Pleasantville girl to fall from a Boardwalk Ferris wheel Friday.
Witness interviews have not uncovered why Abiah Jones died during a visit to Morey’s Piers, Wildwood police Sgt. Ken Gallagher said Monday. Jones fell from a gondola on the 156-foot-high Giant Wheel at Morey’s Mariner’s Landing Pier at about 12:30 p.m. Friday.
“I don’t have an explanation. I wish I did,” Gallagher said. “Right now, it’s a tragic accident.”
An autopsy was conducted Sunday at Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point.
“There’s no doubt she was alone in the car,” Gallagher said, explaining that prior to boarding the Ferris wheel, another child had almost shared the gondola with Jones but decided not to go on the ride.
Jones was treated at the scene, then taken to Cape Regional Medical Center in Cape May Court House, where she was pronounced dead at 1:14 p.m.
“Everybody has been interviewed,” Gallagher said, adding that because the young girl was alone in the Giant Wheel’s gondola, “There are no real eyewitnesses to the actual fall.”
Gallagher said that while there has been much speculation by the public, nothing at this time conclusively explains why she fell.
“The car door was still in a locked position,” Gallagher said of the door that allows riders to enter and exit the gondolas.
The ride was closed after the fall, and police have said it did not appear that any mechanical or operational error took place.
Inspectors from the state Department of Community Affairs also investigated.
“The investigation is still ongoing, and we will not be prepared to issue any official report until later this week, the earliest,” Hollie A. Gilroy, director of communications for the DCA, wrote in an email Monday.
Morey’s Piers, meanwhile, is open on a limited schedule until mid-June, when all of its piers and attractions will open for the season.
“The Ferris wheel will remain closed until further notice. A reopen date has not been determined at this time,” Morey’s Piers spokeswoman Lindsey Young wrote in an email Monday.
Morey’s also has temporarily suspended the Beachfront Blog on its website following Jones’ death.
The last post on the blog, attributed to Executive Vice President Jack Morey, reads, “Dear Friends and Colleagues, In light of the recent tragedy on the Ferris wheel the Beachfront Blog is temporarily offline. Please join our entire staff at Morey’s Piers in keeping the family of the young girl in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your continued support.”
Facebook has become an outlet for those wanting to pay tribute to Jones. At least 8 pages have been established on the site in the girl’s memory. The most popular page, titled “R.I.P Abiah Jones who fell off the Morey’s Pier Ferris Wheel,” had 19,220 fans as of 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Jones’ family held a vigil Sunday afternoon at PleasanTech Academy Charter School in Pleasantville, where Jones was in the fifth grade. The trip to Wildwood on Friday was a reward for students with good grades and good behavior.
A prayer service for Abiah Jones will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the All Wars Memorial Building, New York and Adriatic avenues in Atlantic City.
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