After 10-year-old killed on ride, NJ festival will take year off
DEERFIELD — After a deadly incident involving a carnival ride claimed the life of a 10-year-old girl last fall, the long-running Deerfield Harvest Festival announced it will take this year off.
"After 41 years of planning and running the festival, the Festival’s volunteers agreed that it was time to take a break from the event for at least a year," according to the festival website, as determined by the Deerfield Township Recreation Committee.
Hailey McMullen died when she was ejected from the Xtreme ride at the festival at Rosenhayn Fairgrounds on Oct. 12, 2019.
The website announcement made no mention of the tragic incident, and the committee did not immediately return a message left Saturday asking if the girl's death was a factor in making the decision.
State Police and the DCA said their investigation into the fatality last fall is ongoing and have not disclosed any details of the incident except to say foul play is not suspected.
Emergency calls made the night of Hailey's death described the girl as being sucked underneath the ride.
"She came out of it and it whipped around and pushed her down underneath the ride," one woman told a 911 operator.
According to court documents filed by the family in Middlesex County Superior Court as reported by NJ.com, Hailey was seated on the ride behind a fastened safety bar. The family says the ride operator did not see her when she was ejected, which the court documents say caused "second impact injuries."
The same report by NJ.com said an attorney for Skelley’s Amusements said they are working with the family, while also disputing that there was any hesitation in stopping the ride amid the deadly incident.
State Police told NJ 101.5 in the weeks following the incident that the family of a 10-year-old boy who had been seated next to Hailey on the ride had contacted authorities. No details of the conversation were disclosed.