Touching tribute to six kids killed in bouncy castle accident to mark one year since ‘freak mini tornado’ tragedy
A HEART-shaped sculpture will be unveiled to mark one year since six children were tragically killed in a horror bouncy castle accident.
The youngsters were celebrating their last day of term at Hillcrest Primary School near Devonport, Tasmania when a freak “mini tornado” launched the inflatable 30ft into the air.
Peter Dodt, Jalailah Jayne-Marie Jones, Jye Sheehan, Zane Mellor, all 12, and Chace Harrison and Addison Stewart, both 11, died in the horror accident on December 16 last year, while three others were left injured.
Devonport mayor Alison Jarman said: “It is a day that is etched in our memories forever. It’s the day our hearts broke for the Hillcrest Primary School community.
“The tragedy rocked our close-knit community, it will no doubt for a long time.”
A commemoration event will be held at the town on Thursday – with the community invited to leave a flower or message in the heart sculpture, 7News reports.
The school will also hold a private ceremony on Friday.
“We continue to keep the children, their families, and their loved ones in our hearts and minds,” Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff said.
“We will never forget.”
The children were enjoying end-of-year celebrations when a gust of wind whipped up the inflatable and chucked them into the air.
An hour earlier, graduating students had flocked to the jumping castle, inflatable zorba balls and water play activities as the fun celebrations kicked off.
A hearing was told how a powerful “mini tornado” occurred.
It is believed five of the children who died were on the bouncy castle, while the sixth was struck by an object while waiting in line.
One parent told The Australian: “They have called it a strong gust of wind, but it was more like a freak mini-tornado. And it seems like it was a freak accident.”
At the time, Tasmanian police confirmed a “significant local wind event” contributed to the tragedy.
“This is a very tragic event and our thoughts are with the families and the wider school community, and also our first responders,” Commander Debbie Williams said.
“There is no doubt that this has been a very confronting and distressing scene.”
The tragedy triggered an outpouring of grief in the local community and around Australia.
Floral tributes were left outside the school, and an online fundraiser for affected families has raised more than $1.4million.
Jarman, Devonport’s mayor, said a dedicated support line remains open for anyone who needs help dealing with the tragedy.
“It’s hard to imagine how the past 12 months have been for the families and those affected deeply,” she said.
“I’m sure there isn’t one person in our city who hasn’t been impacted by the tragedy.
“While it is still difficult to process for many, it is important that we all continue to support one another as best we can.”