Community grieves for girl who fell from festival ride, died


DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP, NJ (AP) — A New Jersey community left flowers and balloons and flew flags at half-staff in memory of a 10-year-old girl who died after plunging from a ride at a festival over the weekend.

Hailey McMullen, of Deerfield Township, was ejected from a Wisdom Super Sizzler “Extreme” ride Saturday night that was part of the annual Harvest Festival staged in the small Cumberland County town. She was flown to a hospital but pronounced dead a short time later.

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The cause and circumstances of her death are being investigated. No other injuries were reported. State police released her name Monday.

Hailey’s classmates recalled her as a smart, funny and nice girl who was “always happy” and loved sleepovers and jujitsu. Flags were lowered at her school on Monday.

Meanwhile, a makeshift memorial grew outside a store frequented by her family. Community members left flowers and tied balloons to a pole.

Officials with the company that own and operate the ride, Williamstown-based Skelly’s Amusements, said its workers were deeply affected by the girl’s death, calling it a “punch in the gut.”

A company manager said the ride has been in operation for 27 years and passed an inspection shortly before the festival began. They say no major problems were previously associated with it.