EL PASO – Bishop Mark J. Seitz offered words of condolence to the family of a teenage girl killed when she was thrown from a ride during a parish carnival.
“Parish communities gather at times outside of church service, religious formation classes and other activities simply to enjoy one another and their families. When such a joyful event turns tragic, the pain of the loss is even greater,” Bishop Seitz of El Paso said in a statement April 30, a day after the accident.
“The Diocese of El Paso deeply regrets this terrible loss. Words are incapable of expressing our sorrow at the death of this young girl. We know that no words will alleviate her family’s pain, but we will ask our merciful God to do through prayer what words are incapable of doing: bringing consolation in the midst of this sorrow.”
Samantha Aguilar, 16, died after being taken to a hospital after the accident during the Children’s Day Fiesta at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in East El Paso, a middle class area of the city. A 15-year-old girl also was thrown from the ride, but her injuries were not as severe, authorities said.
Investigators were attempting to determine why the girls were ejected from the ride. Bishop Seitz said the diocese is cooperating with authorities.
Fr. Ed Roden-Lucero, parish pastor, said in a statement released on social media April 30 that he was “shocked, saddened and brokenhearted” by the accident.
He said the festival was “meant to celebrate God’s blessing of family life and the great gift of children.”
“The loss of her life in this accident on our parish grounds is incomprehensible to my parishioners and me. We pray that the risen Lord give her eternal rest and give consolation to her family and friends. We are all just profoundly sorry. We also offer our prayers for the welfare of the girl who was injured. We pray for her rapid recovery,” Fr. Roden-Lucero added.
A diocesan spokeswoman told the El Paso Times that Playtime Amusements, Inc., of Las Cruces, New Mexico, the owner of the ride, has been used by other parishes and that their equipment has experienced no problems. The investigation is focusing on whether the equipment malfunctioned and how well the safety bar and seat belt were placed on the girls, she said.