Man Dies at Amusement Park After Fall From Ferris Wheel

in Theme Parks

Giant Wheel at Gillians Wonderland Pier

Credit: Gillians Wonderland Pier

Tragedy struck an amusement park in New Jersey Monday morning when a man fell to his death while working on a Ferris wheel attraction.

Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, an iconic Ocean City amusement park, is known for its vast array of attractions all located on the Jersey Shore. According to reports from, Ocean City Fire Department responded to Wonderland Pier at 10:32 a.m. Monday 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.

Gillian's Wonderland Pier
Credit: Gillian’s Wonderland Pier

Jay A. Gillian, President of Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, shared the following statement about 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.”

The man was identified as Robert W. Sanger, 62, of Pittsgrove. He was a welder employed by Cargo Tech International of Swedesboro.

Gillian's Wonderland Pier
Credit: Gillian’s Wonderland Pier

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.

icon park freefall and the wheel
Credit: ICON Park

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.

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