Two kids were seriously injured when a bounce house was picked up by wind and lifted 50 feet in the air in South Glen Falls, New York, Monday.
When the wind blew the staked bounce house from its position, there were three kids in the bounce house, ages 5, 6, and 10. One of the two boys that was seriously injured landed on a parked car, and the other landed on asphalt.
According to accuweather.com there were no indications of widespread wind gust during the time of the accident Monday afternoon, and the nearby Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport, reported winds of only 6-8 mph between the hours of 3-4 pm yesterday.
The incident occurred in front of the family’s townhouse as their children played. The parents say the wind picked up enough to free the playhouse from the stakes it was tied to. Police also have confirmed that indeed the 10’ x 10’ toy was secured according to standard safety precautions.
A witness told the Post-Star “the wind picked the structure up and spun it around as if it were a small tornado.”
Accuweather.com meteorologist Jesse Ferrell said the cause of the incident could be what is referred to as “freak dust devil.”
Dust devils form when hot air near the surface rises quickly through a small pocket of cooler, low- pressure air above it. A fully formed dust devil, is a funnel-like chimney through which hot air moves, both upwards and in a circle. As the hot air rises, it cools, loses its buoyancy and eventually ceases to rise. As it rises, it displaces air which descends outside the core of the vortex. This cool air returning acts as a balance against the spinning hot-air outer wall and keeps the system stable.
These type of events ordinarily happen in the Southwest US. The Navajo refer to Dust Devils as chiindii, ghosts or spirits of dead Navajos.
“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.
This dust devil blew the house more than 50 ft. in the air, over a large wooded area, and onto an adjacent school property.
The third child was not injured because she was standing on the entryway to the playhouse and was thrown off as the house began to lift off the ground. The other two boys weren’t so fortunate.
“My older daughters witnessed it and said it was just horrible,” the girl’s mother said. “A big gust of wind just blew it right off the ground with the kids in it. It’s just sickening.”