A sixth child has died after a jumping castle was blown 10 metres in the air by a freak gust of wind at an end-of-year celebration.
Tasmanian police commissioner Darren Hine confirmed that 11-year-old Chace Harrison died on Sunday afternoon – three days after the horrific accident
The tragedy unfolded on Thursday morning at Hillcrest Primary School in Devonport, northern Tasmania, when the bouncing house was picked up by a ‘mini-tornado’.
On Friday, police released the names of the five other Year 5 and 6 students who lost their lives in the disaster – Zane Mellor, Peter Dodt, Jye Sheehan, Jalailah Jayne-Maree Jones, all age 12, and Addison Stewart, 11.
Two children are in a critical condition at Royal Hobart Hospital, and 12-year-old Beau Medcraft was released on Friday to recover at home.
Premier Peter Gutwein said Chace’s family are traumatised, but agreed to allow authorities to release his name.
‘We have offices there with them and to make sure they can travel back to Devonport safely, so we have a support mechanism to help them deal with this unbelievable and traumatic situation,’ he said.
When asked how long the police investigation into the disaster will take, Mr Gutwein said: It is too early to say but there is a lot of pieces of the investigation that need to be pulled together.’
‘We don’t want to rush it but we also understand that the community wants answers.’
All five children killed in a bouncy castle tragedy outside their Australian school were identified Friday as police began investigating if the giant inflatable was properly secured to the ground.
The dead victims were all fifth and sixth graders at Hillcrest primary school who died after plunging about 30 feet from the bouncy castle that was whipped into the air by a gust of wind on Thursday.
Addison Stewart, 11, and Zane Mellor, 12, had been identified Thursday as two of the victims in the freak accident that took place during a celebration of the last week of classes before Christmas break in Devonport, northern Tasmania.
Police later said Jye Sheehan, Jalailah Jayne-Maree Jones, and Peter Dodt – all of whom were 12, also died, news.com.au reported.
Three children remained in critical condition and one other child was discharged from the hospital, authorities said.
Tasmania police commissioner Darren Hine said Friday that investigators will probe whether the bouncy castle was tethered to the ground.
On the day of the accident, the local weather forecasts called for “light winds.”
On the day of the accident, the local weather forecasts called for “light winds.”
Investigators will look into the wind speed at the time of the incident to determine whether it was a “freak event,” the police chief said.
“It is fair to say that the wind was quite strong,” Hine said.
Hine said investigators will also question the management of the company responsible for the inflatable castle.
Five primary school children have died in a jumping castle incident after wind picked up the inflatable on the final day of school in Tasmania’s north-west.
A lot is still unknown about the “distressing” and “unthinkably heartbreaking” incident but there are some things we do know.
What happened?Debris was left in a tree and scattered below it after the deadly accident.(ABC News: Monte Bovill)
About 10am at the sports oval at Hillcrest Primary School in Devonport, a gust of wind picked up a jumping castle as well as several zorb balls (inflatable balls that people stand inside) and hurled them into the air.
The jumping castle rose about 10 metres and pulled kids with it, according to eyewitness reports to police.
Children fell from the jumping castle, with some people landing on the oval and others off the hilly slope at the edge of the oval.
How many children were hurt?
Five children have died all in grade 5 and 6, on their final school day of the year.
Four other children are in hospital.
We don’t know how many children in total were on the jumping castle or using the zorb balls.
Several helicopters came to the scene to ferry victims to hospitals.
How did the jumping castle lift off?
We don’t know yet.
Police called it a “wind event” and a “gust” but the nearest weather bureau monitoring site, about 10 kilometres away at Devonport Airport, did not record anything out of the ordinary.
Police have also not confirmed what was used to anchor down the jumping castle.
Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Anna Forrest said the strongest gust recorded at the airport around the time of the incident was only 22 kilometres per hour, “which is not atypical for the area and wouldn’t be considered extremely strong”.
“It’s a fairly light wind,” she said.
“The last front that had gone through was yesterday afternoon. The winds were in the process of going from a southerly to a north-easterly.
“They were all around the 20 kilometre an hour mark, so nothing horrible was reported at the airport, but obviously had horrible consequences for the site.”
Ms Forrest said the wind would have felt like getting in your car, driving 22kph and putting your hand out the window.
“It’s quite mild. Before anyone in the bureau would call it strong [wind], it has to get to 46 kilometres an hour,” she said.
Why was there a jumping castle at the school?
The school was holding a “Big Day In” event for the end of the school year. It usually holds a school picnic but switched to a different event last year due to COVID.
“The ‘Big Day In’ will start at 9:30am where students will have the opportunity to rotate through a range of activities with their cohort,” a post on the school’s community page said.
Activities on the oval included: “jumping castle, zorb balls, tabloid activities.”
There was also a wet-play zone with slides and sprinklers and an arts and craft area.
“The purpose of the day is to celebrate a successful year and enjoy some fun activities with classmates,” the post said.
One parent said the school-based event was so successful last year that they decided to hold it again, rather than the annual picnic, which was off school grounds.
Has this ever happened before?
It’s not common but fatal incidents involving jumping castles have happened overseas.
Two children were killed and 20 other people injured’ in central China in 2019 when a jumping castle was blown into the sky by a dust devil.
In the UK in 2018, a jumping castle reportedly exploded at a beach, killing a child.
Also in the UK, a jumping castle blew away at a fairground and killed a seven-year-old child. Two workers were convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence over the death.
What will happen now?
The coroner has already visited the scene and police are investigating and gathering evidence.
Tasmania Police Commissioner Darren Hine said the investigation would take “quite some time”.
He said all evidence gathered would form the basis of a future inquest into the deaths.
Updates: Four children are dead and five are critical after falling 10 metres from a jumping castle that flew into the air
Police said students plunged from the jumping castle after a wind gust lifted it into the air at Hillcrest Primary School, near Devonport about 10am on Thursday.
A schoolboy who watched the horrific scene unfold revealed he was almost involved in the tragedy.
‘It was our turn next,’ he told The Mercury.
‘Grade five and six went first.’
Two rescue helicopters and multiple ambulances were sent to the scene.
Four children have died and several others are in a critical condition in hospital, Tasmania Police Commander Debbie Williams said.
One child has died and several others left in a critical condition after they fell from a jumping castle that was thrown into the air at a Tasmanian primary school.
Police said students fell about 10m from the jumping castle after a wind gust lifted it into the air at Hillcrest Primary School, near Devonport about 10am on Thursday.
Two rescue helicopters and multiple ambulances have been sent to the scene.
One child has died and ‘a number of others’ are in a critical condition, a Tasmania Police spokesman said.
The inflatable castle was part of a celebration to mark the last day of school, which also included zorb balls, a slippery slide and a wet play zone.
‘A wind event caused a jumping castle to lift into the air,’ police said in a statement.
Paramedics are pictured at Hillcrest Primary School, near Devonport in Tasmania. One child has died and several others left in a critical condition after they fell from a jumping castle at the school
The primary school said in a statement there had been an accident and the site would be closed for the rest of the day
‘Several children fell from a height of about 10 metres about 10am and are receiving medical treatment at the scene.
‘Sadly, one child has died and a number of others are critical.’
Several police units have been sent to the scene.
Residents have been told to avoid the area.
The primary school said in a statement there had been an accident and the site would be closed for the rest of the day.
‘We ask that parents come to collect their children as a matter of urgency,’ the statement read.
Premier Peter Gutwein addressed the incident at a Covid press conference on Thursday. He said it was understood ‘there are serious injuries involved’.
The school is in Devonport in northern Tasmania (pictured). Hillcrest Primary School had posted online before the accident advertising its ‘Big Day In’ celebration to parents
Hillcrest Primary School pictured. ‘Several children fell from a height of about 10 metres about 10am,’ a Tasmania Police spokesman said
‘As further information comes to hand we will provide it, but as this involves a primary school my thoughts are with the people involved and the parents,’ he said.
Ambulance Tasmania said it was responding to a ‘major incident’ and urged motorists in the state’s north-west to give way to emergency vehicles.
A woman wrote on Facebook that she had a friend who was ‘racing to the school’ and ‘saw ambulances everywhere’.‘
I’ve just been on the phone to a friend who was racing to the school – she’s a wreck,’ the woman wrote.
Ambulance Tasmania said in a statement that it was responding to a ‘major incident’
Locals on Facebook said the wind was not that strong on Thursday and that a freak gust must have ripped the jumping castle from the pegs holding it to the ground.
‘It’s not even that windy down here,’ one person wrote.
The school had posted online before the accident advertising its ‘Big Day In’ celebration to parents.
‘Students will have the opportunity to rotate through a range of activities with their cohort,’ the school wrote.