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Seaside town in shock after death of young girl in bouncy castle tragedy

PUBLISHED: 08:07 02 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:28 02 July 2018

Police cordon around the Bounce About play area at Gorleston beach.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Police cordon around the Bounce About play area at Gorleston beach. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

A seaside town is in a state of shock after the death of a young girl who was thrown from a bouncy castle on the beach.

Police cordon around the Bounce About play area at Gorleston beach.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYPolice cordon around the Bounce About play area at Gorleston beach. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Eyewitnesses described how the girl was thrown into the air after the inflatable play equipment “exploded” on Gorleston beach.

Norfolk Police were called to the Lower Esplanade at around 11.15am yesterday following reports that a child had been thrown from the bouncy castle. The ambulance service also received more than a dozen calls from members of the public in relation to the incident.

The girl was rushed to the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston but died as a result of her injuries. Her next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said: “Several of our teams were dispatched, with the first on scene in four minutes. The young female was seriously injured and in cardiac arrest on our arrival.

Police cordon around the Bounce About play area at Gorleston beach.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYPolice cordon around the Bounce About play area at Gorleston beach. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“Sadly, despite all the of the efforts and interventions, she was pronounced deceased. We would like to thank everyone who rushed to respond the young patient, and did everything possible to give her treatment and care. Our thoughts are with the family at this time.”

At the beach, the ‘Bounce About’ children’s area - where the incident took place - was closed off and a police cordon put in place around its outer perimeter.

One witness reported seeing the inflatable play equipment “explode” and another said the girl was “catapulted” into the air. Both described what they saw as “horrific”.

One Gorleston shop owner, who preferred not to be named, was working around 30 metres from where the incident occurred and described the immediate aftermath.

Police cordon around the Bounce About play area at Gorleston beach.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYPolice cordon around the Bounce About play area at Gorleston beach. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“I didn’t see what happened but heard a loud bang, and then saw a commotion and people running away,” he said.

Locals and holidaymakers had been soaking up the sunshine on a beautiful summer’s day, but were left wondering what had occurred when they saw the unmistakable blue and white police tape. A visible state of shock could be seen on the faces of all those who had learned of the horrifying nature of the incident.

With the crowded beach remaining open to the public, parents departed and arrived to the sound of their children asking why the play area was closed.

As police officers watched over the scene, officials from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Great Yarmouth Borough Council arrived to launch the initial stages of their joint investigation which will attempt to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Police cordon around the Bounce About play area at Gorleston beach.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYPolice cordon around the Bounce About play area at Gorleston beach. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The health and safety officers spoke at length with police before surveying the scene, dominated by a piece of crumpled canvas.

As the investigation got under way, local people were left to gather their thoughts and borough councillors, as well as Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, led the tributes to the little girl and offered their condolences to her family.

Emma Flaxman-Taylor, Great Yarmouth Borough councillor for the Gorleston ward, said: “At this moment in time all I can do is express my condolences to the girl’s family.”

Her colleague Carl Smith, a Gorleston resident and councillor for Bradwell North, added: “Obviously our condolences go out to the family and friends of the little child who has tragically been killed.

Police cordon around the Bounce About play area at Gorleston beach.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYPolice cordon around the Bounce About play area at Gorleston beach. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“Health and safety officers from the borough council are working with Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the police, who will make a decision on the best way to move forward with their investigation.

“The investigation is in its very early stages and we will keep the public informed as and when we know more information.”

Mr Lewis took to Twitter to express his sympathy, saying: “Absolutely tragic, thoughts are with family & friends, just so sad.”

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