COMMERCE – An end of school celebration for Commerce eighth grade students turned into a horrific scene when an inflatable carried by 40 to 50 mile per hour winds flew through the air injuring three students, two severely.
“It was a scary situation,” Superintendent Jim Haynes said.
Haynes said five students were inside an inflatable at the Commerce Middle School party Wednesday, May 17, at Principal Jack Kelley's ranch home west of Commerce when the wind tore the inflatable from the ground and struck a tree.
“The accident happened at our eighth grade end of the year class party,” Haynes said. “They had some inflatables there. They didn't use a couple of them, but the one that they had was a jousting ring.”
The jousting inflatable resembles a boxing ring where two people battle with inflatable joust poles.
“There was four or five kids on there, and it was staked down,” Haynes said. “ A gust of wind came through, and it pulled it up.”
The entire Commerce Middle School eighth grade class, teachers, and several parents were at the party, and three students received injuries in the incident.
“We had three students who actually went to the hospital, two of them by ambulance to Freeman Hospital, a boy, and a girl,” Haynes said. “The boy, I believe, is probably going to be released today. He spent the night. Then the other student they transferred to Tulsa, but I think everything is going to be okay with her.”
Haynes would not disclose what injuries the students incurred due to privacy policies, but he said they anticipate a full recovery.
“Mr. Kelley hasn't filed his report yet, he's checking on the students,” Haynes said. “He has been at the hospitals today and yesterday evening until fairly late.”
The inflatables were rented from a North Miami rental company, according to Haynes, and he said the company set up the inflatables for the students' party.
“There were a couple more inflatables we didn't use because of the wind,” he said. “I would commend the staff for their response to the situation.”
Haynes said the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and Quapaw EMS responded to the scene.
According to Ottawa County Sheriff Jeremy Floyd, his office was not informed about the incident until Friday morning and was currently working on an investigation and report.
A 2015 report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated the number of injuries and reported deaths from inflatable amusements from 2003 to 2013 states there were an estimated 113,272 emergency department-treated injuries, and 12 deaths reported to CPSC in this timeframe.
More than 90 percent of the estimated injuries associated with inflatable amusements were linked to moon bounces, and most of the injuries were to the limbs, with leg and arm injuries accounting for 66 percent, according to the CPSC data.