Bodies began tumbling when a two-story red, white and blue inflatable slide went soaring into the air at a youth soccer tournament Saturday. Two other inflatables also flew off the ground that breezy afternoon, causing youngsters to suffer bumps and bruises but critically injuring a mother who had an inflatable crash-land on her.
Fathers, coaches and bystanders sprinted toward the airborne amusement rides, some grabbing knives to furiously stab the rubber-filled edifices before anyone else was injured. "I never thought there would be any serious issues, any concerns with safety," one father, Mike Perniches, later told The Associated Press. "But now, I'm like, forget it."
Thirteen ended up at the hospital that day. And people in Oceanside, on New York's Long Island, learned a lesson that is becoming all too familiar: Inflatable amusement rides - with their hit-and-miss regulation and a lack of industry-wide standards - can endanger lives when not properly installed or operated.
At least 10 inflatables around the country have been toppled by winds or collapsed under too much weight in the last two months, injuring more than 40 people, according to http://www.rideaccidents.com, a website that tracks amusement ride accidents.
In a little more than a week beginning in late April, two slides collapsed at separate events in California, injuring nine children, according to media reports.