Bouncy Castle Tragedy: Company charged after six children killed

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Devonport residents left flowers, soft toys and other tributes in front of Hillcrest Primary School in December 2021

A bouncy castle company has been charged with violating health and safety regulations in Australia, almost two years after six children were killed in an accident.

The children fell about 10 meters (33 feet) after strong winds blew the castle skyward at a school fair.

Prosecutors allege that the Tazzorb incident “put the children at risk of death or serious injury.”

Parents of the children who died welcomed these accusations.

The six Tasmanian children killed in the crash – Addison Stewart, Zane Mellor, Jay Sheehan, Jalila Jayne Marie Jones, Peter Dodd and Chase Harrison – were between 11 and 12 years old.

Three other children were seriously injured.

“This was a terrible tragedy that took the lives of our beautiful children,” said a joint statement on behalf of the families of Zayn, Peter, Addison and Jalila, reported by ABC News.

The children were all in the Hillcrest Elementary School gallery when the incident occurred on the last day of class before the December 2021 break.

At the time, police said about 40 children, as well as their teachers and other adults, were at the school fair.

In a message at Chase’s funeral, his parents said their hearts were broken, “Our world has changed forever.”

The tragic accident shook Devonport, a city in Tasmania with a population of less than 30,000. The community gathered last year to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the bouncy castle accident.

Tasmania’s Work Health and Safety Officer Robyn Pearce said she had spent the past year meeting families of children who died or were injured on 16 December 2021.

On Friday, the region’s workplace safety regulator said the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had lodged a complaint with Devonport Magistrates’ Court.

“The Director of Public Prosecutions has charged Taz-Zorb, the bouncy castle operator, with a Class 2 offense under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2012,” Robin Pearce was quoted as saying by ABC News.

This charge carries a penalty of up to 1.5 million Australian dollars (£785,000, US$970,000). The BBC has contacted Taz Zorb for comment.

Ms Pearce, who works for WorkSafe, said the charges allege the bouncy castle operator “failed to comply with a health and safety duty in a way that put children at risk of death or serious injury”.

Quoted by The Guardian, one of the victims’ parents said she still wants answers about the school’s involvement.

Zain’s mother, Georgina Gardam, said she was glad the company had been charged, but added: “I still want answers about the school’s involvement in the tragedy.”

Gardam also said she looked forward to “hearing the outcome of the criminal proceedings and subsequent criminal investigation.”

A wider investigation into the incident has been put on hold until the WorkSafe investigation is completed.

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