On June 3rd, 2011 at approx. 1230 pm, in Wildwood New Jersey a tragic event took place where a 11 year old student fell to her death from over a 100 feet from the top of a Ferris Wheel ride during a school sponsored trip. It appears the deceased was the only passenger in that particular Ferris wheel car at the time and fell while it was in motion. The Morey's Mariner's Landing Pier sponsored its annual EDUCATION EXTRAVAGANZA as a day where the park invited students and teachers. The Ferris Wheel had been recently inspected for safety with no previous findings. The loss of life, especially a student, that a parent or guardian entrusted to the child's safety to their school is especially tragic. The park was closed for a day and reopened a day later. She was treated at the scene, but was announced deceased at the hospital 45 minutes later.
Points for Discussion:
- The serious injury, abduction, or death of a student during any school sponsored activity (school day, sporting event, or trip) is perhaps the most unsettling and tragic incident that could occur for a school, but it can unfortunately happen.
- The reaction of most educators to a tragic incident is "why did this happen?"..."how did this happen?"..."how could we have prevented this from happening?"
- Following a tragic incident there will be an investigation and then undoubtedly there will be lawsuits. While everyone knows "hindsight is 20/20" especially when assigning blame or culpability for an injury or death of a student.
- What were the school district's policies or procedures for school trips?
- Were they sufficient to ensure the safety and security of students and school personnel?
- Did the school event planners, executors, and supervisors follow the spirit and letter of the school district policies and procedures for the school trip?
- Did unusual circumstances occur that were not covered by the school district policies and procedures, and what decisions and action did they take to ensure the safety and security of the students?
- The school will need to RECOVER from the incident which starts as they RESPOND to an incident.
- Individual students and staff members will require crisis counseling taking an individual approach.
- The school will need small group counseling taking a collective approach.
BAD THINGS CAN HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE, AND WHEN THEY DO GOOD PEOPLE NEED TO MAKE GOOD DECISIONS.