WILDWOOD, N.J. – A school trip to a Jersey shore amusement park ended in tragedy Friday for an 11-year-old girl who died when she fell 100 feet from a moving Ferris wheel.

Police Capt. Robert Regalbuto said Abiah Jones of Pleasantville was with her classmates from Pleasant Tech Academy when she fell from the ride at 12:30 p.m.

She was driven to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead about 45 minutes later.

A medical helicopter was initially called for, but paramedics at the scene, seeing how grave the girl’s injuries were, decided not to wait, and took her to the hospital in an ambulance.

“I’d like to say how sorry we are for the incident that occurred here,” said Will Morey, president and CEO of the Morey Organization, which has owned amusement parks at the Jersey shore since 1969. This was the first death of a patron in the history of the organization, he said.

Wildwood police said the cause of the fall remains unknown. She fell from the upper half of the ride, about 100 feet.

The 156-foot-tall Ferris wheel is among rides at Morey’s Mariner’s Landing Pier. Both Morey’s and police said the problem did not appear to be mechanical.

Morey’s said it appears Jones was alone in one of the car’s passenger gondolas, which is secured with a double latch. The door of the car opens inward, making it difficult to climb out of, he said.

The popular park was packed with youngsters attending a special school-related promotional day called “Education Extravaganza.”

Police took photographs of various passenger carts on the Ferris wheel, part of which was covered in white sheets, and were looking for witnesses to the fall.

The Ferris wheel, which was built in 1985, most recently passed an inspection on March 17, according to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, which was examining the ride and conducting an investigation into the death. The Ferris wheel will remain closed until the cause is determined, Morey’s said.

According to a 2010 report from the National Safety Council, the estimated number of amusement ride-related injuries on fixed-site rides nationwide was 1,086 or 0.6 per million patron rides.

Colleen Mangone, a spokeswoman for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, said the odds of being seriously injured at one of the United States’ 400 fixed-site amusement parks are 1-in-9 million.

After closing the Ferris wheel and others nearby, the park’s owners decided around 4 p.m. to close the entire park for the rest of the night. It was due to reopen this morning.