Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Schoolboy, 9, ‘still recovering’ after freak zorb ball accident swept him into the air

The boy is making a “gradual recovery” after an inflatable ball he was in was caught by a “freak gust of wind” and blew him into the sky during the Southport Food and Drink Festival last year

The police also revealed that a second 'zorb' ball containing another child was also raised at the same time, but was unharmed
A second child was also lifted into the air but was unharmed, police have revealed

A nine-year-old boy is “still affected” by his injuries almost eight months after he was seriously injured in a freak accident involving a “zorb” ball during a festival.

During the horrifying incident, which happened at Southport Food and Drink Festival on June 4 last year, the young boy was swept up into the air while still in the inflatable ball. Festival-goers watched on in horror as a “freak gust of wind” caught hold of the ‘zorb’ – taking it high up into the sky before landing on the grass.

At the time, reports said that people who witnessed the incident ran over to help the child as soon as an announcement called for security and St John Ambulance staff to attend the scene. Soon after, they arrived and started to give emergency first aid.

Police and ambulance services, including an air ambulance, were called to the scene and the boy was airlifted to hospital. One eyewitness at the time said: “It was quite breezy then all of the sudden there was a gust of wind. It (the inflatable ball) went over the trees and we thought it was a balloon at first before we realised it was one of the inflatables with a child inside and it landed right over there.”

The event was organised by Sefton Council, who said a full health and safety inspection was carried out following the incident. As well as that, Merseyside Police confirmed the incident was referred to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a government agency responsible for the regulation and enforcement of workplace health and safety.

The police also revealed that a second ‘zorb’ ball containing another child was also lifted at the same time, but thankfully the occupant was unharmed. Now, the HSE has completed its investigation into the incident and the watchdog has been clear “lessons” must be learned.

The boy had to have multiple operations


Liverpool Echo)

The Liverpool Echo reported that HSE inspector Roger Clarke said: “With the assistance of specialist engineers we thoroughly investigated this incident, but have since concluded no further action will be taken. There are however very specific lessons to take away relating to the mechanism of ‘walk on water balls’. Further technical guidance will be published in due course.”

Because of the incident and his severe injuries, it was reported the boy went through several operations, and is still recovering. Mr Clarke added: “The injured boy is making a gradual recovery, but it is clear that he is still affected by his injuries. A full recovery will take some time.”

While the HSE statement is clear no enforcement action will take place, Sefton Council have responded to the conclusion of the HSE investigation. A Sefton Council spokesperson said: “Again, we would like to send our best wishes to the boy and his family for a full recovery.

“We are glad we have been able to assist the HSE’s enquiry by providing any information available and look forward to seeing the new technical guidance when it is published.”

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