By Patrick Markey
A 19-year-old Irish college student lost a leg when he apparently slipped onto the tracks of a New Jersey amusement park haunted house where he was working as a ride operator for the summer.
Doctors said Sean Jackson was initially in intensive care at Atlantic City Hospital Center where the young Irish man was airlifted by helicopter after the horrific accident.
Officials said summer evening revelers packed the popular Wildwood boardwalk amusement center when Jackson, dressed in a horror show costume, became entangled on the Monster Mash Haunted House ride.
According to City of Wildwood police department, at about 8:19 p.m. last Wednesday officers and emergency service personnel were called to the boardwalk where Jackson had either slipped or become trapped on the tracks.
Police said Jackson’s left lower leg was amputated by the twin-chair trolley rolling over the tracks. He was transported by a New Jersey State Police South Star helicopter to the Atlantic City hospital.
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On Tuesday, Jackson was listed in fair condition, said Jennifer Tornetta, a hospital spokeswoman. Tornetta would not say whether doctors had attempted to re-attach Jackson’s leg, citing patient privacy rights. It is not known where in Ireland Jackson lives.
Federal and state safety officials have also launched investigations into the cause of the accident.
“The ride was closed and will remain shut down until we have done a complete investigation,” said E.J. Miranda, a spokesman for the New Jersey State Department of Community Affairs, which inspects and licenses the operation of amusement rides.
Miranda said the ride had only opened last month and passed two recent mechanical inspections.
The federal U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also inspecting the incident.
Gary Roskoski, head of the OSHA South Jersey office, said his office had no record of violations at the Monster Mash site.
“We’re still investigating. If we find any violations, we will be issuing citations,” Roskoski said.
Wildwood is a popular boardwalk amusement and resort area. Hundreds of Irish students on temporary work visas flock to the Jersey Shore region every year to work through the summer in the hotel and leisure industries.
Aideen Masterson, a spokeswoman for USIT Now, one of the main organizers for the U.S. travel and work program from Ireland, said Jackson was not registered with the organization.