A freak wind event turned a festive party into a tragedy as a gust of wind tossed children playing in an inflatable bouncy castle high into the sky, killing them. Five children died while four others remain in the hospital after suffering critical or serious injuries in the accident.
The incident happened at the Devonport Primary School in north central Tasmania. Nine 5th and 6th grade students fell from a height of roughly 33 feet in the air after a significant local wind event lifted a bouncy castle and inflatable “zorb” balls high into the air around 10 am. As the last day of primary school and the end of the 2021 school year, the bouncy castle and zorbs were there to help celebrate what should have been a happy day. Instead, tragedy struck.
“On a day where these children were meant to be celebrating their last day at primary school, instead we are all mourning their loss,” Commissioner Darren Hine said in a statement released to the press. According to Tasmanian Police, police and emergency services, including two helicopters, rushed to the scene within minutes and began administering first aid.
“Our hearts are breaking for the families and loved ones, school mates and teachers of those children taken too soon. Our thoughts are with the staff of Hillcrest Primary School and wider school community as well as those emergency services who attended the scene as first responders. We will be doing everything we can to support the community – and each other – through this tragedy. Support and counselling are being made available to all those involved, including our emergency service workers. Our focus right now is on supporting our community, and all those affected,” Commissioner Hine said.
“The loss of any child impacts significantly on our community and this tragedy is understandably distressing for us all. This incident will impact all of us in different ways so it’s important that we all look after each other at this difficult time.”
This isn’t the first time wind has injured children playing in a bouncy house or castle. In 2014, as an example, several children were injured when the bouncy house they were playing in became airborne after a wind gust, launching the children more than 20 feet into the air. In this incident in New York, one child came flying back down to the ground, hitting his head on a car before coming to a rest on the pavement.
In 2011, a giant inflatable slide broke loose in Oceanside, New York, smashing down onto people enjoying the outdoor festivities in the park. More than a dozen people there needed hospitalization from injuries from the large inflatable as it rolled and blew around in gusty winds.
In a video shared on Facebook, violent wind gusts struck a park filled with families in 2018, tossing portable toilets high into the air. The people on the ground were sprayed with the contents of the porta-potties as they flew overhead.