An inflatable carried by 40 to 50 mile per hour winds flew through the air injuring three Commerce students, two severely, during an end of year party.
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 Thursday 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.
(05/18/17) Commerce Middle School Principal Jack Kelley released the following statement late Thursday afternoon on the school's Facebook page updating the community on the condition of the injured students:
With permission granted by each family and at request by each family I would like to update our community on the accident that happened yesterday during the 8th-grade Graduation cookout. During our 8th-grade Graduation cookout, we did have an accident that included 5 students and a low to the ground inflatable. At approximately 1:20 p.m. there was a large gust of wind that damaged some buildings and stoplights in our area that swept up the inflatable. The inflatable was professionally and properly installed and was held down by large metal stakes, it was only 12-18 inches high. 5 students were tossed off of the inflatable. Out of the 5, 4 students were taken to the hospital. Two students were released with no injuries. The other two students required further medical attention.
By permission of the Guardians, I will refer to each student by first name only and will report their injuries and prognosis.
Gregory received a broken wrist which required surgery, the surgery went well and the Doctor reported within 4-6 weeks he will make a full recovery with no side-effects of the injury. He also broke his collar bone and has a small chip in his pelvis. Neither injury required surgery and both injuries will make a 100% recovery in 4-6 weeks. He also has some bumps and bruises. I was there when he came out of surgery last night and there were no complications. I visited him and his Grandmother today and he is doing well, a little sore but ready to go home. Gregory's Grandmother asked me to thank the community for their support and prayers. They are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love.
Megan received four broken ribs, one of the ribs did puncture her lung. The lung has been re-inflated and doing good. They are still monitoring it but hoping to allow it to start working 100% on its own tomorrow. She does have a small C-3 vertebrae fracture that is non-spinal cord related. She has full movement in here entire body. She will wear a small brace for 4 weeks and make a full recovery. She does have some circulation issues to one of her kidney's due to the impact. Carolyn asked me to report that they have not removed her kidney. They are going to monitor it and see if the circulation re-establishes itself which is probable. She also has some scrapes and bruises. I was able to see her last night before being moved to Tulsa. And then visited her again today, she was in good spirits. She was sore but upbeat. Megan's family also wanted me to thank the community for everything that has been done up to this point, they are extremely appreciative for everyone's support. Megan has a few more days of a stay than Gregory but Doctor's expect her to be home in a few days
I just got off the phone with each of them again before making this post and both are resting and doing well. As I visited with each of them today they were both more concerned with how the other one was doing than themselves which is very humbling and shows you how much they care about each other as classmates.
In conclusion, I want to personally thank our community for the outpouring of support and love you have shown for these students, their parents, the other students in attendance, the school system and lastly myself. As the Principal of this school, I love each and every one of your children. There are times in this position they and even you as parents may not see that, but so does every staff member at this school. We are heartbroken that two of our students were involved in this accident and are injured but are thankful that both of them are expected to make a full recovery within 4-6 weeks. I want to thank the staff members who were attendance, the parents and our Superintendent for working with me during the accident to secure the area and helping me take care of the students involved. I hope this post helps clarify the events, injuries, and prognosis of each student involved.
Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.