An ornate New Jersey Hindu temple complex became the site of a tragedy Thursday when a teenage volunteer fell to his death.
As visitors and members returned to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville on Friday, they solemnly remembered the high school junior who loved sports, attended weekly services at his local BAPS temple, and dreamed of studying business administration in college, said Vinay Limbachia, a volunteer at the temple, called a mandir in Hindi.
The 15-year-old Hatfield boy was working on a construction project at the temple Thursday afternoon when he fell about 45 feet from the ceiling, according to the Robbinsville Township Police Department.
Just before 4 p.m., police and EMS responded to the temple, in the Windsor section of Robbinsville, and found the boy unconscious. After responders performed CPR, the boy was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Police are investigating the fall, but said it appeared to have been an accident.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also was investigating, spokeswoman Joanna Hawkins said. OSHA could not provide any details on that probe.
Limbachia said people at the temple were looking into what exactly the boy was helping with. The temple is inside a larger structure. The boy's fall occurred inside the structure, but in an area next to the temple.
The boy and his family usually worshiped at the faith's temple in Lansdale, Limbachia said.
As of Friday afternoon, police had not identified the youth and said they did not plan to do so because of his age. The temple also had not released the boy's name out of respect for extended family who may not have been notified.
BAPS stands for Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha. It is a volunteer-driven religious and charitable organization founded in the early 20th century and named after Swaminarayan, a religious leader of the late 1700s and early 1800s. It has major worship centers in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, Nairobi, Sydney, and Toronto.
"The entire BAPS family is heartbroken by the tragic accident that took the life of one of our young volunteers," BAPS said in a statement. "The prayers, condolences, and support of every BAPS family are with the family of this talented young man, whose loss will be felt by all those fortunate to have known him."
BAPS said it would cooperate fully with the police investigation.
At the Robbinsville worship center on Friday, a special prayer was being said continuously for fellow members and the family of the boy who died, Limbachia said. The community hopes to find strength in its faith.
"We often say that BAPS is one family," Limbachia said, "and our congregants are living that teaching today."
The Robbinsville temple calls itself "a masterpiece of exquisite Indian design and workmanship," according to its website.
When the Robbinsville temple opened in 2014, NJ.com reported that it drew thousands of worshipers from around the world.