A 9-year-old girl suffered serious injuries Saturday when the jumping castle she was in got caught in a high wind gust and dropped her on a neighbor's roof.
Alissa Baray was attending a birthday party at a home in the 7900 block of Ironwood Reserve Way, near North Silverbell and West Twin Peaks roads in Marana, said Capt. Adam Goldberg, a Northwest Fire District spokesman.
She and her 11-year-old sister, Jessica, were in the jumping castle when a sudden, intense gust of wind - witnesses described it as similar to a microburst - sent it airborne, Goldberg said. The jumping castle was tied down, but the force of the wind broke the ties, he said.
Jessica dropped out shortly after the castle took off, but her younger sister was trapped inside, he said. It flew about 110 feet before it dropped her on a neighbor's roof, he said.
Paramedics rescued the child and took both girls to University Medical Center. Jessica had only minor injuries, but Alissa suffered a minor concussion, said the girls' grandmother, Marianne Lucero.
She was alert at the hospital Saturday night. "She opened her eyes and said, 'I love you grandma'," Lucero said.
The girls' father hurt his ankle as he tried to chase the jumping castle, she said.
Tanya Carroll was at home Saturday when she heard a loud crash on her roof. When she went outside, she saw a man climbing onto her roof to reach the younger girl. Another man, the girl's father, told her to call 911.
With the girl out of the jumping castle, it again took flight.
Tonya Rerecich saw it carrying a pair of oversized boxing gloves and dragging its motor as it flew over the neighborhood.
"It was fully inflated," she said.
After about a minute it crashed into the side of her house. She said it moved with such force she was grateful the little girl was out of it by then.
"It hit the side of my house so hard," Rerecich said. "It would've killed her."
Gusts reached up to 30 mph in Marana Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service reported.
Guidelines for jumping castles vary by manufacturer, and each situation is different, said Jake Towne, owner of All About Parties, which rents jumping castles, obstacle courses and carnival games for parties.
All About Parties did not provide the jumping castle for the party in Marana Saturday.
Towne's jumping castles can handle wind speeds of up to 25 mph, he said. But even in high winds, jumping castles sometimes still can be used safely, he said.
"It depends on where they're set up," he said. "Some areas are shielded from the wind."
Contact reporter Jamar Younger at email@example.com or call 573-4115.