SANTA CLAUS (WEHT) – “She was a loving mom, she loved going to different places, parks and all that.”
Dawn Jankovic of Brunswick, Ohio loved amusement parks, especially roller coasters according to her son Gunnar Merker. The 17-year-old spoke to our sister station Fox 8 in Cleveland Monday.
“She was fine, the whole entire day,” shared Gunnar.
“The only thing we know right now is…they went on the ride and you know, at some point, she lost consciousness,” said Gunnar’s father, Gary Merker.
Friday, Dawn and Gunnar took a trip to Holiday World in Santa Claus. Both rode “The Voyage”. It was a ride they had both ridden at a previous trip to the park.
“Him and her are both roller coaster enthusiasts, they go all over the place to different amusement parks, that was their thing and yeah, they’d been on it before…just don’t know what happened this time,” said Gary Merker.
Gunnar said he was sitting next to his mom on the coaster during the ride when she suddenly fell unconscious. Dawn was taken Jasper Memorial Hospital where she later died.
“I feel bad, this kid witnessed everything and he was there by himself before I could actually get to him,” said Gary.
“She was a hard-working mom, she tried her best to support me in all different ways,” said Gunnar.
Gunnar said his family and Dawn’s friends are helping him deal with the loss. He said his mother loved going to rock concerts and support local musicians in Ohio. Now, many of them are showing her and her family support.
“Very, very sweet person, caring, her son was her life,” said Gary.
Dawn’s family has established a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $4,000, by Monday. The donations have already more than doubled that amount.
Gunnar said part of the money is set to go toward transporting his mother from Dubois County back to Ohio.
“We’re trying to transfer her back from Indiana to Ohio, which costs some money, then we’re gonna set up two funeral service, one in Pennsylvania and one in Ohio.”
Holiday World officials said after the incident a full inspection was performed on The Voyage, and it was determined the ride was operating as intended.
The ride remained closed for the rest of the evening.
Holiday World officials reopened the ride on Saturday after they say it was inspected by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
An autopsy is still pending.