The gust on what was otherwise a mildly breezy Monday afternoon in South Glens Falls came without warning.
“It looked like a little tornado,” witness Taylor Seymour said.
When it hit, parents and other onlookers could only watch in shock as the sudden blast lifted an inflatable bounce house 15 to 20 feet off the ground, dumping three children and seriously injuring two.
The inflatable toy came to a rest an estimated couple thousand yards away — the equivalent of roughly 20 football fields — at a nearby middle school, South Glens Falls Police Chief Kevin Judd said.
“It was a freak accident,” said Seymour, whose sister suffered minor injuries. “It was like something you would have saw in a horror movie.”
Two boys were airlifted to Albany Medical Center following the 3:30 p.m. accident. Their conditions have not been announced, and they have not been named by authorities.
According to South Glens Falls police, witnesses said the accident at 22 Ferry Blvd. came after a “sudden and strong burst of wind” lifted the 9-foot-by-12-foot-by-6-foot Little Tikes Jump ‘n Slide Bouncer. Several adults were monitoring the children at play, and the play house was staked to the ground.
Little Tikes did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Seymour, a South Glens Falls High School senior, said she saw the accident through her townhouse window. She saw the bounce house lifted 15 to 20 feet into the air and spin.
“It swung to the left and dropped the first little kid to the ground. He landed right in the middle of the road,” she recounted. “The wind must have took it another direction; it dropped off the second little kid, whose back of his head landed on my car .... Then he fell into the driveway.”
The house may have gotten as high as 50 feet or more.
“It cleared my [two-story] townhouse,” Seymour continued. “It kept going past my house, then it kept going to the [Oliver W. Winch] Middle School.”
Seymour’s sister, Jayden, was also inside when the toy first became airborne, but fell out when it was only a foot or less off the ground. Taylor Seymour said her sister suffered only some scrapes and bruising.
“I thought she was the one falling to the ground,” the older sister said. “She is fine. We are really, really worried about the two kids.”
Other accidents have occurred involving inflatables lifted by wind. In 2011, 13 people were injured in Oceanside on Long Island when three bounce houses became airborne.
“It wasn’t very windy here at all yesterday,” said South Glens Falls Police Patrolman David Gifford, one of the investigators of the accident. “It was just a bizarre wind that came out of nowhere.”
According to the National Weather Service, the wind at Glens Falls Airport around the time of the accident was out of the northwest at 9 mph, with gusts to 16. “It was pretty breezy up there, but I wouldn’t say windy,” meteorologist Steve DiRienzo said. He continued that judging by the description of the accident, a dust devil — a small whirlwind — may have struck.
“It’s just a swirl, like an eddy in the wind,” he said. “It’s been know to tip over golf carts.”
The investigation into the accident continues, but no charges are expected.
“It was beautiful out,” Taylor Seymour said. “It happened oh so quickly.”