Gust or 'Freak Dust Devil' Throws Bounce House in Air, Injures Three Kids in NY

By By Kevin Byrne, Staff Writer
July 05, 2014, 4:41:33 PM EDT

Three children were injured, two of them seriously, after a strong gust of wind lifted an inflatable bounce house into the air on Monday around 3:30 p.m., in South Glens Falls, New York.

Two boys, ages 5 and 6, fell from the bounce house, which was about 15 feet in the air. One boy fell on a parked car while the other fell onto asphalt. Both were taken to Albany Medical Center according to the Glens Falls Post-Star. The third child, a 10-year-old girl, suffered minor injuries when she fell out just as the house was being lifted.


South Glens Falls Police tell the Post-Star that conditions of the boys were not known as of Tuesday morning.

A witness told the Post-Star that, “the wind picked the structure up and spun it around as if it were a small tornado."

Observations from the region did not indicate any widespread wind gusts Monday afternoon around the time of the incident, said Meteorologist Eric Leister.

Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport, just about 5 miles northeast of Glens Falls, reported winds gusts of only 6 to 8 miles per hour between 3 and 4 p.m.

“Wind gusts can be very localized and also depending on terrain and structures, winds can be funneled and become much stronger than other nearby areas, which could possibly explain the extreme wind gusts responsible for lifting the inflatable bounce house,” Leister said.

Besides the possibility of drastic variations in wind, Meteorologist Jesse Ferrell said there could have been a “freak dust devil.”

It was unusually warm, with highs in the upper 80s in the area, and heat is an essential ingredient in the formation of dust devils.

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“The truth is, vortexes are all around us constantly; it takes something physical to give them shape such as dust, snow, steam or leaves,” Ferrell said.

Bounce houses are popular toys for younger children. As a safety precaution, when being put together, they should be fastened with stakes in the ground.

According to the Post-Star, the mother of the injured girl said the bounce house was tied down to the ground with stakes, but the “wind blew them free.”

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