I wanted to say to the family and everyone who knew Stanislav Dragnev, I am very sorry for your loss. I was at the Casino Pier that day with a friend and his daughter going on the rides and we were walking to go on the Star Jet Coaster when the accident happened. We didn't actually see it happen, but it was obvious that it had just occurred.
I had hoped that it was nothing serious and i am very saddened to have heard of his death.
SEASIDE HEIGHTS — A spokesman for Jersey Shore University Medical Center said Wednesday that the 21-year-old Bulgarian exchange student injured Sunday evening by a boardwalk roller-coaster car has died.
"I can confirm at this time that the patient is deceased," spokesman Rob Cavanaugh said at 5:15 p.m. Wedneday. "Out of respect for the family, I cannot release any more information at this time."
Cavanaugh could not release the specific day or time of death of Stanislav Nikolaev Dragnev of Pleven, Bulgaria, who had remained in critical condition at the hospital in Neptune since Sunday.
Melvin Harmon, spokesman for The Council for International Educational Exchange, the Maine-based nonprofit organization that organized Dragnev and 54 Bulgarian students with summer jobs at Casino Pier, said the CIEE arranged for an emergency visa for Dragnev's father, Nikolay Dragnev, to arrive Tuesday night and see his son.
Despite the hospital report, as of Wednesday evening, Harmon wrote in an e-mail, "Stanislav Dragnev remains connected to life support systems at this time. CIEE staff are with his father at this time and Stanislav's condition remains unchanged. Unfortunately, I have no further information regarding the conflicting information you may have received from a hospital spokesperson."
Dragnev was injured Sunday when he walked under the Star Jet roller coaster at Casino Pier to retrieve a baseball cap for a child who lost it during a previous ride, according to Thomas Boyd, police chief for Seaside Heights. As a new ride began, Dragnev was hit in the back of his head by a roller-coaster car, Boyd said.
Casino Pier spokeswoman Marilou Halvorsen said the latest update she had been given on Wednesday evening was that Dragnev was hooked up to a ventilator and was with his father. She said he was still in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit.
"The ride was cleared by (the state Department of Community Affairs), but we're keeping it closed out of courtesy to his co-workers, at least for several days," Halvorsen said.
She added that if the report of his death is correct, "We will issue a statement if in fact that is the outcome. Casino Pier would work with the CIEE and do whatever is necessary and whatever is appropriate."
Dragnev, a student at Sofia University-St. Kliment Ohridski, was in the U.S. on a student visa. He had been living in a Grant Avenue house with other Casino Pier workers since May.
Casino Pier has offered grief counseling to Dragnev's roommates and other workers, according to Halvorsen.
In a separate e-mail, Harmon said the CIEE is discouraging "any direct contact with Mr. Dragnev's father while he faces these very tragic circumstances. We sincerely appreciate your cooperation. On behalf of CIEE and of the Dragnev family, we appreciate the concern, thoughts and prayers of the people of Seaside Heights and surrounding communities."
This story contains information previously published in the Asbury Park Press. Staff writer Lauren O. Kidd contributed to this story.
Opening of Casino Pier delayed after ride worker's death
SEASIDE HEIGHTS — The management of Casino Pier has delayed the opening of the boardwalk
amusement park today to give workers time to cope with the death of the 21-year old Bulgarian employee struck in the back of the head by a roller coaster car Sunday, according to a Casino Pier spokeswoman.
"Our concern now is for all our employees. We are delaying opening the pier to give them some time,'' Marilou Halvorsen said early this afternoon.
Casino Pier management is providing grief counseling to workers, and planning a memorial service in honor of Stanislav Nikolaev Dragnev, the exchange student who died at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, Halvorsen said.
Both Halvorsen and Melvin Harmon, a spokesperson for the Council on International Educational Exchange, the group that arranged Dragnev's trip to the U.S., said the young man died a little after 7 a.m. this morning, with his father at his side.
A hospital spokesman said Wednesday that Dragnev was deceased, although he said he could not release any more information about the death, out of respect for the family.
The ride operator, here on a student visa, was injured around 6:30 p.m. Sunday when he walked under the Star Jet roller coaster at Casino Pier to retrieve a baseball cap for a child who lost it during a previous ride. As a new ride began, Dragnev was hit in the back of his head by a roller-coaster car.
"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Stanislav Dragnev,'' Harmon said in a statement. "His co-workers and friends in Seaside Heights, New Jersey have constantly reminded us all of his kind and outgoing spirit. Described as someone who made everyone smile and who was always ready to help, he was indeed focused on assisting others even in the final moments of his life.''
Halvorsen said Dragnev was "a dedicated, hardworking employee, but more importantly he was a kind, friendly, and loving human being.''
"Our hearts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and co-workers here and in
Bulgaria,'' she said.
Halvorsen did not know what time Casino Pier would reopen today, or when the memorial service would be held.
SEASIDE HEIGHTS — Sometime next week, Casino Pier will hold a memorial service for Stanislav Nikolaev Dragnev, the 21-year old Bulgarian exchange student, who had worked at the pier since May and died after being hit in the head by a roller-coaster car, a spokeswoman for the boardwalk amusement park said Thursday.
"Out of respect for our workers," management has also decided not to reopen the roller coaster until Saturday, said Marilou Halvorsen, Casino Pier spokeswoman. On Thursday afternoon, management delayed the opening of Casino Pier by about 90 minutes to allow workers to begin to cope with Dragnev's death, Halvorsen said.
"We brought the students together, and we informed them this morning of Stanislav passing away," Halvorsen said Thursday. The amusement park also provided grief counseling to Dragnev's co-workers, she said.
Dragnev, of Plevin, Bulgaria, had been in the U.S. on a student visa. He was one of 54 Bulgarian exchange students spending the summer working at Casino Pier through the Maine-based Council on International Educational Exchange's Work and Travel program.
The ride operator was injured around 6:30 p.m. Sunday when he walked into a restricted area under the Star Jet roller coaster to retrieve a baseball cap for a child who lost it during a previous ride. As a new ride began, Dragnev was hit in the back of his head by a roller-coaster car.
Dragnev was taken off life support, and died with his father by his side, just after 7 a.m. Thursday, Halvorsen said. The student exchange organization had secured an emergency visa for his father, Nikolay Dragnev, who arrived in the U.S. Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, Rob Cavanaugh, spokesman for Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, said "the patient is deceased." He said then he could not release the time of death out of respect for the family. But both Halvorsen and Melvin Harmon, a spokesman for the exchange organization, said Dragnev was still hooked up to a life support when Cavanaugh made his statement.
On Thursday, Cavanaugh said Dragnev was pronounced "clinically deceased Monday evening." He could not provide a definition of "clinically deceased." Because of privacy laws, Cavanaugh said he could not discuss the specifics of any patient's care. The hospital followed state guidelines in announcing the death, he said.
Harmon released a statement Thursday saying the exchange organization is "deeply saddened" by Dragnev's death.
"His co-workers and friends in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, have constantly reminded us all of his kind and outgoing spirit. Described as someone who made everyone smile and who was always ready to help, he was indeed focused on assisting others even in the final moments of his life," Harmon stated.
In a prepared statement, Halvorsen, of Casino Pier, said Dragnev was "a dedicated, hardworking employee, but more importantly he was a kind, friendly, and loving human being."
"Our hearts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and co-workers here and in Bulgaria," she said.
Dragnev was a student at Sofia University-St. Kliment Ohridski, according to Harmon. The exchange organization is assisting his father in arranging plans to travel back to Bulgaria, he said.
The state Department of Community Affairs, which oversees New Jersey amusement parks, found the Star Jet roller coaster did not malfunction during the incident, a department spokesperson said Tuesday, and has deemed it safe to reopen.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched an investigation into the incident on Tuesday, said OSHA spokeswoman Leni Fortson. Fortson said she could not comment on an open investigation. OSHA has six months to complete the investigation, she said.
Such a tragic accident. I can't imagine what his family and friends are going through.
I live in Toms River, across the bay from Seaside Heights. I go to Casino Pier all the time and everytime I pass the roller coaster - which I have also ridden - I think of him. It was truly a tragic accident and I feel sorry for all his family and friends.