Two arrested after girl (7) died following bouncy castle incident
A seven-year-old girl died after she was blown around 150 metres on a bouncy castle which is thought to have been swept away by a sudden gust of wind at an Easter fair.
Families had gathered at Harlow Town Park in Essex on Saturday for the third day of the event organised by Thurston fun fairs over the holiday weekend.
Two men, understood to be from the family-run bouncy castle firm, have been arrested by police on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence.
East of England Ambulance Service said crews were called to Harlow Town Park shortly after 4pm to reports that a girl had been seriously injured when the bouncy castle she was on blew "some distance" away.
The girl was treated by ambulance crews and the Herts and Essex air ambulance and taken to Princess Alexandra Hospital, where she later died.
Tributes have been laid at the scene of the fair, which is now closed as police and the Health and Safety Executive investigate.
Ray Smith, a representative of the Showmans Guild of Great Britain, said: "It was a sudden gust. Had it been a consistent wind they would have closed down all the inflatables."
Asked about how the inflatables were set up he said: "I know the (Thurston) family and I am very confident they had staked it out properly. Obviously there is a full investigation to be held into how this could have happened and to make sure it can never ever happen again."
Last year a bouncy castle collapsed while children were playing on it during a funfair in the same park. It was reported at the time that three children had to be treated by paramedics when the inflatable castle collapsed on them.
Harlow Council officers visited the site following the incident last May and suggested a number of health and safety improvements, including better stewarding of the event.
Conservative MP for Harlow Robert Halfon said locals have raised concerns at another tragic incident involving a bouncy castle in the space of a year.
He said: "In the past few hours a number of residents have contacted me asking how this could happen and what is being done.
"I will be asking the relevant authorities to start an urgent inquiry as to how this tragedy happened, and to find out who is responsible, especially given events last year, and to consider whether bouncy castles such as this should be banned from Harlow Town fairs, until we can be sure that they are completely safe, so such a horrific tragedy never happens again."
Among the tributes at the park's entrance is an Easter basket while another card on a bunch of flowers reads: "God has taken a beautiful girl for his angel. RIP Princess."
It is believed the dome-shaped inflatable carrying the girl, from Norwich, blew over a number of trailers and caravans in the park and landed down a hill.
Detectives from the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate, which is leading the investigation, have appealed for anyone with video footage of what happened to contact them.
Detective Inspector Daniel Stoten said: "This is a very tragic incident where a young girl has lost her life. My deepest sympathies go out to her family.
"We are trying to establish the circumstances surrounding how the girl came to be injured and I urge anyone who was at the event and witnessed the incident to contact me."
Belfast Telegraph Digital