The devastated parents of an 11-year-old who fell to her death from a Ferris wheel at a New Jersey pier said Tuesday that they believe a better restraint system could have saved her life.
Abiah Jones' parents, Byron and Twanda Jones, did not explicitly say that they would sue Morey's pier in Wildwood, but they have hired lawyers.
The couple spoke Tuesday at a news conference at a Philadelphia law firm that has begun investigating Ferris wheel safety worldwide.
Lawyer Larry Bendensky said he's looking into who could have been responsible for the girl's death.
The accident occurred June 3 when Abiah Jones visited Morey's Piers in Wildwood, N.J., with her school PleasanTech Academy Charter School in Pleasantville N.J. She was awarded the trip because of her top grades her family said.
A preliminary state report issued Monday found that she was alone in a Ferris wheel gondola and that the adjacent gondolas were empty when she fell from near the ride's peak, about 160 feet from the ground.
New Jersey's Department of Community Affairs recommended two new requirements for Ferris wheels.
The park said that one of the requirements -- that children must be at least 4 feet, 6 inches tall to ride alone -- is already policy at its amusement parks. The other would set a minimum of two riders per car.
Will Morey, president of Morey's Piers and Beachfront Waterparks, said that the company would comply with the additional state recommendations, but that he doesn't believe restraints are needed on Ferris wheels.
"They have very mild forces, and we believe that restraints are not necessary to counteract these mild forces" he said in emailed responses to questions from The Associated Press.
Byron Jones seems to disagree, "Click it or ticket," Jones said. " You have to wear a seat belt in a car. You're 150 feet in the air."
Police said an investigation showed the ride was in working order with all safety procedures in place, and that it could be impossible for a properly seated patron to fall from the ride unless there was a malfunction.
There are no witnesses to say how the Pleasantville, N.J. girl got out of the gondola. Without witnesses police can not conclude that Abiah was not properly seated.
Ruling out malfunction, the report concludes that Abiah may have been standing or kneeling on a seat, leaning over the gondola or chose to leave the ride.
Police recommend that ride operators require more than two riders per gondola, among other measures, and require riders to be at least 54 inches tall.
New Jersey's Department of Community Affairs also told ride operators that both recommendations should be followed until the change can be permanently made.
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