A 10-year-old girl has died after being ejected from a ride at a long-running South Jersey festival, New Jersey State Police said Sunday.
The girl, whose name was not disclosed, was ejected from a ride called Xtreme, which is a Wisdom Super Sizzler amusement park ride, about 6:15 p.m. Saturday at the Deerfield Township Harvest Festival in Cumberland County, police said.
She sustained serious injuries and was airlifted to Cooper University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m., police said in a news release posted on their Facebook page.
The cause and circumstances of the girl’s death remain under investigation, police said.
Tony Stanzione, publicity chairman and cofounder of the festival, which was in its 41st year, said by phone Sunday afternoon that the organizers made a decision to close the amusement rides and game area on Sunday, the last of the four-day festival. Other events, such as the children’s entertainment and musical entertainment areas, were to go on as scheduled, he said.
“The festival will be open [Sunday] to offer a place for the community to come together in the wake of this tragedy,” said a statement from the township that Stanzione sent out Sunday.
The statement also said: "We have learned from the State Police that the young person involved in the accident has succumbed to her injuries and our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
Stanzione said he could not comment on the type of ride the girl was on.
Tina Baumgarten of Cedarville, Cumberland County, said she was at the festival after the accident and saw an emergency helicopter overhead. Some of the other rides were still operating at the time, she said. “It’s just so sad and tragic,” said Baumgarten, who has a 9-year-old daughter. “I think they should have shut it down.”
Another attendee, 28-year-old Amber Worley of Upper Deerfield, Cumberland County, said other rides operated for perhaps an hour and a half after the accident. A young girl approached her, “crying her eyes out,” and said she had seen the 10-year-old ejected from the ride.
The festival rides are provided by Skelly’s Amusements, based in Williamstown, Gloucester County, according to the festival’s website. The company did not return a call or email Sunday.
On its Facebook page, the company said it had been given permission by the state to operate its other rides on Sunday, but that “we don’t have it in our heart. … We continue to ask for your thoughts and prayers for the family.”
Skelly’s is a second-generation family business that began in 1956. It has operated rides at the RiverRink Summerfest at Penn’s Landing, at Abington’s June Fete, the Middletown Grange Fair in Bucks County, and the Preston & Steve Campout for Hunger, among many other events.