SOUTH GLENS FALLS, N.Y. -- One of the two boys injured in a freak bounce house accident has left the hospital and is home continuing to recuperate from multiple broken bones.
The boys, ages 5 and 6, were hurt when they fell about 20 feet from the lightweight inflatable structure that was lifted into the air by a strong gust of wind.
The 5-year-old who landed on a parked car suffered serious head injuries, while the 6-year-old fell on pavement and two broken arms and a broken jaw. Both boys were airlifted to Albany Medical Center Hospital.
"Having kids of your own, it’s tough to see things like that," said Ross Loffler, a South Glens Falls firefighter who responded to the scene on the afternoon of May 12.
At their families’ request, the boys’ names haven’t been released.
However, the 6-year-old came home late last week and the 5-year-old is no longer in a coma, Harrison Avenue Elementary School Principal Joseph Palmer said Tuesday. The boys are in kindergarten at the school.
Both of the 6-year-old’s arms are in a cast and his mouth has been wired because of the broken jaw. The wiring is expected to come off soon, Palmer said.
"He’s able to eat and talk," the principal said. "He’s a terrific little boy."
Palmer said it would be up to the boy’s family to decide if the 6-year-old returns to school before summer vacation begins next month.
A benefit car wash for both boys will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at South Glens Falls Fire Department Station 2 on Route 197. Another fundraiser is planned for Mr. Bill’s Restaurant on Route 9 on June 22. This event will include raffles and live music and a portion of restaurant proceeds will go to the families.
"We’re just trying to come together as a community," Loffler said. "It’s a long road. I’m sure the medical bills are quite pricey."
South Glens Falls Superintendent of Schools Michael Patton called the 6-year-old’s return home "great news."
Police have characterized the event as a tragic accident and have said parents erected the 8-foot-by-8-foot toy correctly, by staking it to the ground. The children were being supervised by adults when the accident occurred.
A 10-year-old girl fell from the bounce house as it was lifting off and suffered minor scrapes and bruises.
The children were playing at home after school at their Ferry Boulevard apartment complex when the accident occurred. After the boys fell out, the bounce house flew high into the air before coming down several hundred yards away in athletic fields behind Oliver W. Winch Elementary School.
The inflatable toy is manufactured by Ohio-based Little Tikes Company and may be purchased at retail stores such as Walmart.
The accident generated publicity around the world through social media and major news outlets including USA Today, ABC News and NBC’s Today Show.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which primarily deals with children’s safety issues, is investigating the accident. However, the Bethesda, Md.-based federal agency hasn’t released its findings yet.
"We’re looking to see what are the instructions for proper use of the product, what were the conditions and is the incident one that is repeatable or was there something unique that occurred that could have contributed to the incident," spokesman Scott Wolfson said. "What happened is a very serious, very dramatic incident, but not one that happens with a great deal of frequency."
A range of outcomes are possible in any case, from warnings to enforcement against a specific product or classwide action. For example, the agency once took action against all types of outdoor gel fuel pots because of burns they caused by spattering. The agency determined there was a safety hazard with all such products, not just those made by any one company.
The commission’s 100 field agents monitor more than 10,000 consumer products. Accidents that result in fatalities or serious injury are given priority when conducting investigations, Wolfson said.
He declined to speculate about when the commission will release its findings on the bounce house accident.
"This is an agency that cares deeply about the safety of children," he said.