Boys hurt in bounce house accident in stable condition
The tragedy has sparked coverage around the world through social media and major news outlets including USA Today, ABC News and NBC's Today Show.
The boys, ages 5 and 6, fell about 20 feet from the lightweight Little Tikes bouncer after it was blown into the air by a strong gust of wind. One boy suffered a serious head injury and is in a medically-induced coma. A 10-year-old girl suffered minor injuries when she fell from the inflatable structure as it was lifting off.
"The first thing I thought was that was my sister falling through the sky," eyewitness Taylor Seymour, of South Glens Falls, told NBC's "Today Show." "All I saw was arms and legs going."
Seymour said the 6-year-old boy fell from the bounce house first and landed in the street. She said the bouncer then flew over her Ferry Boulevard apartment building. The 5-year-old fell next, hitting his head on the back of her car before falling to the ground in the apartment's parking lot.
The boys were airlifted to Albany Med where the 5-year-old who hit his had has been placed in a medically-induced coma.
The 6-year-old suffered multiple broken bones and possible internal injuries, the "Today Show" reported.
All three children are students at nearby Harrison Avenue Elementary School in the South Glens Falls Central School District. The accident occurred after school at about 3:30 p.m. Monday at a residence at 32 Ferry Blvd.
School Superintendent Michael Patton said that Harrison Avenue school Principal Joseph Palmer visited the boys at Albany Med on Tuesday night.
"They're in for a long recovery," Patton said. "All signs from the doctors is that they're making good progress. The critical period, especially for the boy with the head injuries, is the next several days. Ultimately, we're looking forward to them coming back to school."
The children are neighbors and aren't related to each other, Patton said. Parents have asked authorities not to release their identities.
Patton, in a statement on the school district website, said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured students and their families. Our goal is to provide help and assistance to all members of the South Glens Falls community that have been affected by this very unfortunate incident."
Palmer, in a statement, said, "Our faculty, staff, parents and school community are all thinking of the boys and their families. The Harrison Avenue Family will continue to work together, along with the South Glens Falls community, and support the children and the families in any way needed."
Police said the inflatable toy, manufactured by the Ohio-based Little Tikes Company, was staked to the ground. The 8-foot-by-8-foot structure is much smaller and lighter than large commercial-size bounce houses, and may be purchased at retail outlets such as Walmart.
Police said the children were under adult supervision when the accident occurred.
"We watched the fellow that put it up and he staked it and he did everything correctly," eyewitness Stephanie Hansen said on the Today Show. "All the kids were having fun until they screamed to me to come down and I saw that."
The "Today Show" reported that a similar accident occurred on Long Island in 2011 when strong winds overturned three bounce houses injuring 13 people.
As the popularity of bounce houses has grown, so too has the number of children's injuries, from fewer than 1,000 in 1995 to nearly 11,000 in 2010, a 2012 report in the journal Pediatrics said. The study said that about 30 children per day are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for bouncer-related injuries. Most of these result from children colliding or falling inside or outside the structure.
Wind-related accidents are much rarer.
A peak gust of 24 mph was recorded at 2:34 p.m. Monday at Floyd Bennett Memorial (Warren County) Airport, in Queensbury, meteorologist John Quinlan of the National Weather Service in Albany, said Wednesday. The average wind speed for the day was 5 mph, although the highest two-minute sustained wind was 18 mph at 1:33 p.m., he said. Wind direction and channeling of winds between buildings all might have factored into the accident, Quinlan said. "It was a small bounce house," he said. "Even though it was staked down, it probably didn't have much weight (to hold it down)." After the boys fell out, the structure was blown about 100 feet into the sky before landing several hundred yards away in fields behind Oliver W. Winch Middle School. "We are not aware of any other similar incidents involving one of our bounce houses," Little Tikes Company spokeswoman Jennifer Campana said Wednesday. "Each product carries a warning, both on the product itself and in the instruction manual in several places, stating it should never be used in windy conditions." Joseph Roland, who owns a commercial bounce house business in Wilton, said there are no regulations in New York state dealing with bounce houses.
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