Boy playing in zorb ball 'swept away by wind' at family festival

Southport's Food and Drink Festival - Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo
Southport's Food and Drink Festival - Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo

A nine-year-old boy has been seriously injured after being “thrown in the air in a zorb ball” at a family festival.

He was reportedly swept into the air in the giant inflatable sphere by “a freak gust of wind” at the Southport Food and Drink Festival on Sunday afternoon.

Merseyside Police confirmed they were attending the scene and treating his injuries, which they said were not life-threatening.

A witness 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.”

Onlookers rushed to help the boy, who was given emergency first aid by St John Ambulance staff.

An air ambulance was also called to the scene and the child was taken to hospital, where he was being treated on Sunday evening.

Zorb ‘burst in wheelie bin’

Another witness told the Liverpool Echo: “There was a gust of wind, the inflatable zorb took off from the water pool with the boy inside.

“The zorb then landed on a wheelie bin, the zorb popped on impact, leaving the boy on the ground.”

It has since been confirmed that a full health and safety inspection has been undertaken at the Southport venue.

The incident is not the first time that an inflatable apparatus has been blown away during a fair in the UK.

In 2016, seven-year-old Summer Grant was killed when a bouncy castle she was inside blew away at an Easter fair in Harlow, Essex.

Two fairground workers were later convicted of the gross negligence manslaughter of the child after it was found that they “failed to ensure that the bouncy castle was adequately anchored to the ground”.

“Zorbing” refers to the activity of using the balls for anything from rolling down a hill to travelling across water.

In 2013, a man broke his back and died after rolling in a zorb ball down an unfenced snow slope at a Russian ski resort. The zorb veered off a snowy track and rolled into a gorge, continuing for around a kilometre before stopping on a frozen lake.

First aid quickly on the scene

Following the zorb incident at the Southport festival, a spokesman for Sefton Council said: “First aid responders from St John Ambulance reacted quickly to provide assistance to the person involved prior to the arrival of other emergency services.

“Following the incident a full health and safety inspection has been undertaken at the Southport Food and Drink Festival and the event remains open to the public.

“Our thoughts are with those involved in the accident and we wish them a full recovery.”

A spokesman from Merseyside Police said: “We can confirm we are currently in attendance in Southport following reports that a child had been seriously injured.

“At around 2pm, it was reported that a nine-year-old boy had sustained injuries at an outdoor festival in Victoria Park, on Rotten Row.

“He has been taken to hospital by air ambulance for treatment to his injuries, which are not life threatening.

“Emergency services remain at the scene while the circumstances of this incident are established.”

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