New York Bounce Houses Fly Away, Witness Calls Incident 'Terrifying'

Latest incident occurs amid growing concern about the safety of bounce houses.

ByABC News
June 5, 2011, 2:45 PM

June 6, 2011— -- The father of two of the children playing inside a bounce house that blew into the air in New York this weekend recalled the event with horror today on "Good Morning America."

"It was terrifying," parent Richard Dowd said.

Thirteen adults and children were injured when strong winds lifted three bounce houses -- with children playing inside -- into the air and tumbled them along the ground at a youth soccer tournament Saturday in Oceanside, N.Y.

Dowd's two young daughters, 5 and 7, were trapped in one of the bounce houses that were part of the entertainment set up for children at the Oceanside United Soccer Club's tournament at Oceanside School 9 on Long Island.

Dodd described a chaotic scene in which, suddenly, a gust of wind picked up the houses and sent them tumbling across the schoolyard.

"I first noticed the slide and the way that that took off," Dowd said on "GMA." "And, literally, it took off 100 feet in the air, no exaggeration.

"I don't think video shows that," Dodd said, referring to amateur footage shot by witnesses at the scene showing the houses, with children inside, being torn off their bases and into the air before eventually landing on their sides.

Dodd joined dozens of onlookers in a rush to try and hold the houses down and rescue the children still inside but instead was "flattened" by them, he said.

His daughters, along with the other injured, were taken to local hospitals but were not seriously harmed.

"The girls are fine," Dowd told "GMA." "They'll be in school today, answering many questions [about the accident], I'm sure."

The incident has put a spotlight on the growing concern about the safety of bounce houses, which have become more popular and produced more accidents.

In Pima County, Ariz., there were two incidents earlier this year when bounce houses were lifted into the air with children in them.

Two young girls were in a bounce house that blew over a fence and onto a roof Feb. 19. One of the girls was seriously hurt and the other suffered minor injuries.

On April 2, a dust devil lifted a jumping castle containing two children about 15 feet into the air and blew it across three lanes of traffic before it landed in the median of a busy highway in Tucson, Ariz.

Emergency teams from the Tucson fire department were called to rescue the boy and girl who were in the jumping castle at the time.

Both children, who were said to be between 7 and 10, were taken to a hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Anthony Dixon, owner of the "Jump and Slide" party rental company in Long Island, New York, told ABC News his company has never had this kind of problem because of the precautions they take.

"If winds exceed 15 miles per hour or more, we will shut down the unit," he said.

Regulation of bounce houses is currently done on a state-by-state basis, with each state responsible for its own rules regarding inflatables.

Dowd says he is not sure yet if he and his family will pursue legal action in the accident involving his daughters, but he knows they will not likely be in a bounce house again soon.

"I have no idea," he said on "GMA," regarding a lawsuit. "Naturally, a huge priority is the fact that our girls are okay."

"Not outdoors," he responded, however, to any plans for his girls entering a bounce house anytime soon.

ABC News' Dean Schabner contributed to this report.