5 children die in bouncy castle accident


SYDNEY (AP) — Five children died and four others were in critical condition after falling from a bouncy castle that was lifted 10 meters (33 feet) into the air by a gust of wind at a school on Australia’s island state of Tasmania.

The school was holding a celebration to mark the end of the school year.

The children who died included two boys and two girls in year 6, which would make them 10 or 11 years old, said Tasmania police Commissioner Darren Hine. Police confirmed a fifth child died in the hospital.

Five other children were being treated, including four in critical condition. Hine said an investigation is underway.

Images published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation showed police officers consoling each other as paramedics provided first aid to victims.

Parents arrived at the school gate to collect their children as helicopters ferried the injured to hospitals.

Tasmania state Premier Peter Gutwein called the incident “simply inconceivable… I know this is a strong and caring community that will stand together and support one another.”

Tasmania police commander Debbie Williams told reporters “several children fell from the jumping castle. It appears they may have fallen from a height of approximately 10 meters.”

“This is a very tragic event and our thoughts are with the families and the wider school community and also our first responders,” Williams said.

Five children fell to their death and five others were injured when a bouncy castle was blown into the air by a gust of wind outside an Australian school.

The unimaginable tragedy took place during a celebration marking the last week of classes before Christmas break at Hillcrest primary school in northern Tasmania, police said.

The children in the bouncy castle were tossed from a height of about 33 feet on a sunny, early summer day that was forecast by local weather services to have “light winds.”

The victims were all in sixth grade and included two boys and two girls. The gender of a fifth child who later died in the hospital is unclear.

Two of the victims have been identified as Addison Stewart and Zane Gardam.

Addison’s aunt Meg Aherne wrote in a GoFundMe page that “everyone is devastated” by the loss.

“My niece was tragically taken in the accident at Hillcrest Primary. I’m hoping to raise some money for my brother and sister in-law to help pay for funeral costs and to pay off some bills for them while they try and navigate life without their precious daughter,” she wrote.

Gardam, who was autistic, was described in a separate GoFundMe created by a family friend as “caring” and “gentle.”

“Zane was such a beautiful caring, gentle soul who had challenges growing up with his autism and (ADHD) but that never set him back he kept achieving,” organizer Grace Johnston wrote.

“This has shook so many people and the community and we want to do anything to help make things a little easier for her at this hard time,” Johnston added.

Of the surviving children, four are in critical condition and the other is in serious condition, according to Tasmanian police commissioner Darren Hine.

“On a day when these children were meant to be celebrating their last day of primary school, instead we’re all mourning their loss,” Hine said, news.com.au reported.

“Our hearts are breaking for the families and the loves ones, school mates, teachers of these young people who were taken too soon,” he added. “Our thoughts are also with those emergency service personnel who attend to try and save these people’s lives.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the incident “shattering” and “unthinkably heartbreaking.”

“Young children on a fun day out, together with their families and it turns to such a horrific tragedy, at this time of year, it just breaks your heart,” he said.

Some parents witnessed the horrific scene as they were volunteering at the event.

Bob Smith, who lives near the school, said he saw the castle “go up.”

“We knew there was something really wrong. My wife heard a bang. It was pretty traumatic,” he told the ABC. “[We’re] a bit shaken. You don’t expect anything like that. The poor parents, I don’t know what they’re going to do.”

The school closed for the day after the incident.


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