DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — New details are emerging in the death of a 10-year-old girl who was ejected from an amusement ride. It happened at the Fairgrounds in Deerfield Township, Cumberland County.
In New Jersey, amusement ride owners are required to apply for annual permits. The owner of the rides, Skelly’s Amusement, did have a permit, according to the Department of Community Affairs.
New Jersey State Police are now trying to figure out what happened.
A makeshift memorial of balloons continues to grow at the Deerfield Township Dollar General store near Bridgeton. They’re in remembrance for Hailey McMullen, who lost her life too soon.
“It’s just respect to the family and herself and her brother and everybody in her family. Nobody deserves that,” Deerfield student Keith Lauermann said.
State police say Hailey was at the annual Deerfield Township Harvest Festival Saturday night, riding “Xtreme” — a Wisdom Super Sizzler amusement park ride — with family nearby, when she was thrown off the ride and died.
The rides are owned by Skelly’s Amusement Company, based in Gloucester County.
“The inspector that came out checked each and every lap bar on that ride, and at this point, we have not been told we found anything deficient,” said Rick Marchione, a concession manager with Skelly’s.
When asked if Hailey met the height requirement for the ride, Marchione said, “To the best of my knowledge she did, but that is still under investigation.”
There are a lot of other unanswered questions. Could a seat belt, in addition to the lap bar, have prevented the little girl’s death?
“There needs to be an appropriate restraint system to basically keep your fanny in the seat,” amusement ride consultant Ken Martin sad.
While state police continue investigating, many people in the Deerfield Township community admit future Harvest Festivals won’t be the same.
“It’s all we got, that festival. We do it every year,” resident Terri Banks said.
“It’s a family event. It’s been going on for years and they’re there to have fun and her whole family was there — her siblings her parents. It’s devastating,” resident Krystal Defeo said.
An official Eyewitness News spoke with says at least a dozen people have died from rides just like the sizzler across the U.S. over the last 20 years.
The Deerfield Township School District said in a statement they will have grief counselors and support services on hand.
On Monday the Deerfield Township School District released a statement about Hailey’s death.
“In trying to help our staff and students deal with this tragedy, we will have grief counselors and support services from our school and surrounding school districts on hand to assist any of our students or staff members who may need assistance in processing and coming to terms with this profound loss.”