Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, an iconic Ocean City amusement park, is known for its vast array of attractions all located on the Jersey Shore.
However, tragedy struck the theme park last week when Ocean City Fire Department responded to Wonderland Pier for a call regarding “a subcontractor who fell from a lift on the Ferris wheel.” The 144-foot Ferris wheel, known as the Giant Wheel, is among the largest on the East Coast. The man was identified as Robert W. Sanger, 62, of Pittsgrove. He was a welder and vice president of the company Cargo Tech International of Swedesboro.
Now, more information has come to light about the incident.
In an interview with The Press of Atlantic City, Shane Smith, president of Cargo Tech International, said that Sanger had finished working on the Ferris wheel and was beginning to lower and relocate the lift when the concrete that the lift was parked on gave way.
“Bob’s my partner. He was working on the rides when the platform gave way,” Smith said. “The concrete platform gave way. The high reach collapsed down through the hole.He went to move the machine, and it fell.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is currently investigating the death but hasn’t released any more information at this time.
Jay A. Gillian, President of Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, shared the following statement after the incident:
“We are saddened to report that an employee of a subcontractor working on a lift at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier suffered a fatal injury Monday morning. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. We are cooperating with all appropriate authorities to thoroughly investigate the cause of this tragic accident. As we get more information we will provide it.”
This isn’t the first incident to unfold at an amusement park regarding workers. A worker is currently in the midst of a lawsuit at Carowinds in Charlotte, NC after having his hand severed while inspecting the attraction Windseeker in 2019.
At ICON Park in Orlando, a worker named Jacob Kaminsky fell to tragically his death while performing maintenance on the Orlando Starflyer. Just months later, 14-year-old boy Tyre Sampson tragically fell to his death while riding the Orlando FreeFall at ICON Park. Sampson’s family has filed a lawsuit against more than a dozen defendants, including The SlingShot Group, ICON Park, ride manufacturers Funtime Handels GmbH and Gerstlauer Amusement Rides GmbH, and construction company Keator Construction.
After the incident, ICON Park demanded that SlingShot Group– the company that operates Orlando FreeFall– cease operations of both the FreeFall and the Orlando SlingShot. Protests have been held outside the attraction pushing for it to be taken down and the family has announced that it plans to file a lawsuit.
As the investigation is ongoing, the incident has made theme parks across the country and legislators alike to take a hard look at safety measures for Guests. In Tennessee, Dollywood closed its drop tower attraction, Drop Line, out of an abundance of caution because the ride was made by the same manufacturer that constructed Orlando FreeFall.
In addition, many Florida lawmakers are looking to make changes that would affect theme parks across the state, including Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando, Legoland, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and many more.
Inside the Magic will continue to keep you updated on this investigation.