Girl, 11, Dies After Falling From Wildwood Ferris Wheel

Police think it may have been a freak accident

An 11-year-old girl died after falling from the Ferris Wheel at Morey's Mariner's Landing Pier on Friday. She was on a field trip with her school.

The ride was in motion and Abiah Jones was about half-way up when she fell from her Ferris wheel car, police said. That's about as high as a five-story building.

Abiah -- who was riding by herself -- fell into the area where people get on and off the ride, according to police.

Investigators told NBC Philadelphia's Ted Greenberg that there was no sign of horseplay or anything intentional.

"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 -- rattled by what they saw.

"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. State inspectors did get on and ride 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 reopened 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 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 statement.

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.

This next video gives you the rider's perspective, shot from the Ferris wheel.

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