OCEANSIDE, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Young children were among more than a dozen injured when a sudden gust of wind turned a day of fun into several moments of sheer terror.
Now, the Nassau district attorney has opened an investigation into the incident that endangered the lives of the kids, reports CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Luciana Mazzocco was still talking about the bouncy house horror on Monday. Her father, Michael, was coaching his older daughter at the Oceanside United Soccer Club’s annual intramural festival when his wife, Jean, heard screams and turned her camera to capture the chaos.
“We ran to the bouncy houses, you see all the dads just take off and start running,” Michael Mazzocco said. “We grabbed onto it, held it down.”
Thirteen children and adults were rushed to the hospital, including a 36-year-old mother who remains in critical condition. The community rallied around her.
“If I can get one person somewhere to just make sure that these inflatables are anchored properly in the future, we can avoid this happening again,” Michael Mazzocco said.
CBS 2 learned that Affordable Inflatable Entertainment, of Oceanside, was hired to set up the devices. The owner offered apologies on Monday, saying the bouncy houses were all properly anchored.
“Yes, we only ever follow safety first, always,” Gina Michielini said. “We are all about safety. If there was wind, they never would have gone up.”
Inflatables can stand two stories tall, and if untethered can move like killer windmills. However, the industry is self-regulated, and code suggests 18-inch stakes and sandbags.
Another inflatable company, Pump It Up, said they secure with concrete and refuse to erect outdoors, fearing freak windstorms.
The Oceanside bouncy rides were set up on middle school property, with the state responsible for permits. Long Island villages, towns and counties have no jurisdiction over inflatables, because they’re considered “non-mechanical.” The weekend horror may change all of that.
“With more and more people using these inflatables, maybe it’s time that we think about strengthening the rules and regulations,” Madalyn Farley, Nassau County Commissioner of Consumer Affairs, said.
The victim’s family told CBS 2 that she wa suffering head and spinal injuries, and could have been paralyzed.
Winds in Oceanside kicked up at one point to 20 miles an hour on Saturday.
No charges have been filed in the case. The district attorney is investigating.