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Summer Grant bouncy castle death sparks warning to parents

By Angela Rainey

Parents have been warned to be extra careful at outdoor events over the summer after a seven-year-old girl died when she was swept away on a bouncy castle.

The little girl, Summer Grant, died from multiple injuries after winds ripped the inflatable from its moorings and blew it 150 metres across a park, in Harlow, Norwich.

A 24-year-old woman and a man aged 27 have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence and bailed after the bouncy castle careered across the park before coming to rest at the base of a paddock.

It's believed that shocked onlookers tried to stop the castle from blowing away in the wind as it reached speeds of more than 20mph. Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-anne Dobson says that although such incidents are rare, parents should be on their guard.

"It is very sad circumstances and I understand the weather may have played a part but anything that involves children needs to be monitored and checked to the highest safety standards," she said.

"We won't know until the investigation has been completed what has really happened but parents need to have that confidence that if they are sending their kids to a party or letting them on a trampoline or near a paddling pool, especially with the summer coming, that their children are safe.

"Health and safety for children has to be paramount."

Parent Terri Rickards was at the Easter Fair at Harlow Town Park. She posted on Facebook that the castle looked unsafe and said she didn't allow her children to get on it.

She added: "This is just devastating news. My two little ones were there today, both under the age of five. We did not allow them on this bouncy castle as it just didn't look safe. The winds were just far too strong! RIP little one."

The death follows a similar incident at the park when a bouncy castle collapsed on three children who were not seriously injured. That led many to call for clearer regulation of 'inflatable play'.

Currently the Health and Safety Executive recommends that castles should not be erected where winds are stronger than 20-25mph and if on grass should be firmly pegged with stakes. Where an inflatable is on a hard surface it must be drilled down and if indoors, weighed down by sandbags.

Ms Dobson added: "We are best to wait until the outcome of this investigation to see if there needs to be more regulation because it is too soon to say. I send my sympathies to the family and my heart goes out to them."

Summer's parents yesterday paid tribute to their "bright, beautiful and most loving little girl".

Cara Blackie, the girl's mother, said: "Words just can't explain how I am feeling right now, life is just truly cruel. Summer was a bright, beautiful and most loving little girl."

Summer's father, Lee Grant, spoke of the whole family's shock, saying: "I never thought our beautiful angel would be taken away from us or that we would outlive her."

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