A bounce house in Florida turned into a world of hurt for three young children, caught up inside of the inflatable fun as a waterspout came ashore and lifted the bounce house over 40 feet in the air. The twisting wind grabbed a hold of the castle bounce house, uprooted it from its anchors and deposited it across a parking lot and over a four-lane highway.
Writes CNN: “The house was swept across a parking lot into a roadway, according to police in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The National Weather Service in Miami reported that one adult was also injured and that one of the three children was seriously hurt.”
The incident happened on Memorial Day near the Bahia Bar hotel in Fort Lauderdale. The whirling column of air lifted the house up over the treeline as horrified beachgoers watched in dismay.
Three children were hurt. Two of those inside the bounce house – ages six and eleven – were reported to be in stable condition. However, a third child, whose age was not released, was last reported in serious condition. All three were taken to the Broward General Hospital.
Fortunately, none of the children were still inside when the bounce house reached its highest point. According to Fort Lauderdale Police spokesperson Kevin Dupree, all the children were tossed out onto the sand at an altitude of about 20 feet. The torn and deflated bounce house landed on a basketball court.
“They were immediately dropped out of the bounce house onto the sand,” Dupree said, adding that the “injured juveniles will not be released.”
Burt Osteen was at the beach with his family when the skies grew dark and the waterspout formed.
“It came right over us. We laid on the ground; we were right in front of the bounce house. We watched it pick up the bounce house and snap a basketball hoop,” Osteen said, adding that the only thing being whipped up nearby was the sand. “The only thing was the sand, getting stung by the sand.”
“There was no indication a waterspout was forming,” said Fort Lauderdale Police Sgt. DeAnna Greenlaw. “It was fast and furious.”
“Tornadic waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water,” reports the National Ocean Service. “They have the same characteristics as a land tornado. They are associated with severe thunderstorms, and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning.”
Jeral Estupinan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, said: “It developed very close to the coastline and moved onshore, and it dissipated very quickly onshore, like any other waterspout.”