Bouncy castle tragedy in Tasmania

Tasmanian Prime Minister Peter Gutwein says the Devonport tragedy is “incomprehensible” as police begin to summarize the cause of the tragic bouncy castle accident on Thursday that left five children dead.

Speaking to reporters in Devonport on Friday, he said there had been a great surge of grief and support in the small coastal town on Thursday night.

“The tragedy that occurred yesterday is incomprehensible,” said Gutwein. “It’s devastating, heartbreaking. It’s just incomprehensible. “

Five children – three boys and two girls – died from injuries sustained when the bouncy castle was lifted into the air by a sudden gust of wind. Several Zorbballs with children in them also flew into the air. They were 11 and 12 years old.

Three children are still in critical condition, but police said one has since been released and is recovering at home.

Witnesses told police that the children were lifted about 10 meters before falling to the ground.

Gutwein said he spoke to community members and offered his support to the family. “As a parent, I cannot understand how the parents of those who have lost children must feel,” he said.

“But as parents, I hope that you can understand that we all feel for you too. As the commissioner said yesterday, a full investigation is underway and the coroner has visited the scene. I promise all families affected by this tragedy that we will stand by your side and support you. “

Hillcrest Elementary School held a “Big Day In” celebration with the bouncy castle and a series of inflatable zorb balls at the end of the school year.

When this incident occurred, nearly 40 5th and 6th grade students were participating in the activities at the end of the semester.

Several adults were also there when the inflatable devices were lifted into the air and provided the children with first aid until the emergency services arrived.

“Nine children were seriously injured. Tragically, five of these children died, three boys and two girls, ”said Tasmanian Police Commissioner Darren Hine. “One was 11 years old, four were 12 years old. Three are in critical condition at the Royal Hobart Hospital. Now you can recover from home. “

When asked if it was attached to the ground, Hine said only that it was part of the investigation.

In addition, it is examined how high it flew, whether all injured children were in the bouncy castle and where the strong wind came from.

Education Department secretary Tim Bullard said they would support the local people.

“At Hillcrest School today we have a team of our own professional support staff, including school psychologists, social workers and chaplains, who support children and their families, and the Department of Health is also helping with access to mental health services for children and adolescents. ” he said.

“Together we work to ensure that those affected receive the care and help they need during this time.”

Devonport Mayor Annette Rockliff said the community was “in shock”.

“Of course we are still trying to be clear about how we could possibly lose these children and, as mentioned earlier, we are a very connected community.

“Everyone knows someone, and we can already see people entwine and support one another.

ABC reporter Monte Bovill, who arrived at school shortly after the tragedy on Thursday, said on Twitter that it was “difficult to put into words”.

“When I got to the height of the horror, I put my camera down. A parent came up to me and gave me a hug. She sat down with me and said, ‘We are human,’ ”he tweeted.

He said the parents ran to school to pick up their children.

Two policewomen were among the first at the scene. In the afternoon, Bovill photographed the couple who had collapsed on the floor and holding each other.

Neighbor Bob Smith’s porch overlooks elementary school, he said he came out when the lock blew up. “Then I saw kids on the floor,” he told the Mercury. “There was a really strong gust of wind on this beautiful, calm day.

“At first we thought it might be a training exercise for the rescue service, then the reality of what happened.”

People gathered for a candlelight vigil outside a primary school in Devonport on Thursday evening and flowers and condolences were left near the gates.

Some residents turned off their Christmas lights out of respect and shops closed prematurely.

“People simply unrelated to school or any of the families just came in tears and grief over the loss of the children when it was supposed to be a celebration,” said Fiona Morrison, a member of the local Uniting Church, told Nine Network on Friday. “You just can’t believe what happened.

“Last night people turned off their Christmas lights out of respect or turned on their Christmas lights to give the other children some hope, some light during this time of mourning.”

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie, who went to school in Devonport, broke down on Channel Nine talking about the tragedy. Lambie said the accident was “unthinkable” and “unthinkable”.

“It’s just … just awful, you know. A week before Christmas,” she told Today.

“Imagine these kids have those Christmas presents under the tree … it’s just awful.”

Tasmania Governor Barbara Baker released a statement Friday morning saying she stands by the Devonport community and will offer them every possible comfort.

“Our thoughts are with those affected; immediate families, classmates and their parents, school staff, first responders and the entire Devonport community, ”she said.

The coroner visited the scene on Thursday and police are investigating and collecting evidence, but Tasmania Police Commissioner Darren Hine said the investigation would “take quite a long time”.

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