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Video captures moment that winds turn a day of fun into terror at student event

By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
May 02, 2019, 1:05:05 PM EDT

At least five students were injured in Washington state Wednesday after strong winds blew an inflatable bounce structure into the air.

The incident occurred at Zillah High School in Zillah, Washington, around 2:30 p.m. local time. The students were participating in an Associated Student Body event, according to the Zillah School District.

“The nature and extent of the injuries are unknown at this time,” school district officials said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the students, parents, and staff of those involved.”

bounce house zillah washington

(Image/ABC News)

The administrators are currently looking into the situation.

The frightening scene was captured on video, showing the bounce game, similar to a bounce house, tumbling across the school's athletic field as students rushed to try to get it under control. Strong winds could be heard blowing in the background.

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The Yakima Herald reported that the inflatable game was carried more than 240 feet by the gust of wind and it was lifted 10-20 feet in the air. One student was critically injured and needed to be air lifted from the scene to a nearby hospital.

KVEW, citing one witness, reported that the students were strapped to the device and wearing harnesses.

Zillah is located in Yakima County in the central part of the state. It’s located about three hours southeast of Seattle.

AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Paul Walker said observations from the closest airport, Sunnyside Municipal Airport, located about 15 miles away, reported wind gusts of 17 mph at the time. About 25 miles away in Yakima, sustained winds of 15 mph were reported but no gusts.

"Winds and wind gusts are usually very localized events," Walker said.

There have been previous issues with bounce houses causing injuries, especially if they are not tethered properly during windy conditions.

In late March, a freak accident in China killed two children when a dust devil swept an inflatable bounce house into the air.

The Child Injury Prevention Alliance says that "in the past 20 years, the number of inflatable bouncer-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments in the U.S. has skyrocketed, and now equals more than 30 children a day, or about one child every 45 minutes."

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