Outpouring of grief and tributes for toddler who died after being 'catapulted' into the air when bouncy castle exploded
Three-year-old Ava-May Littleboy died in the hospital after she was seen flying through the air by horrified beachgoers when the inflatable trampoline she was on exploded
The very first pictures of the young child who died after she was catapulted 20 feet into the air when the inflatable trampoline she was on exploded because of the heat on July 2 have emerged. Three-year-old Ava-May Littleboy died in the hospital after she was seen flying through the air by horrified beachgoers and then landing back on the ground. Witnesses sad they heard a loud "explosion" coming from the inflatable attraction on Gorleston, Norfolk. Her 25-year-old mother, Chloe Littleboy, screamed in terror as she saw her daughter falling.
The family has since paid tribute to the little girl and described her as "the little girl that loved life". The family said in a statement: "She was not your ordinary little girl, as anyone she met, she would leave a lasting impression on. Anyone that met her would not want to forget her. Her infectious laugh and smile could light up even the darkest of rooms. She was the little girl that loved life."
A JustGiving page was set up asking for donations to install a park bench in the little girl's honor and many members of family and friends have come forward in support. 28-year-old Laura Reid, the child's aunt, posted on Facebook: "I will love you always and forever. Sleep tight my little angel. My everything my princess! My heart is broken".
Members of public have also come forward with their support and donations for the family online. One person wrote: "This story broke my heart. No parent should have to experience such tragedy. My thoughts are with you. Rest in paradise little Abbie". Another user wrote: "So Tragic. Thoughts and prays for the family and all affected. Life is so fragile and precious, every moment should be valued and treasured. God rest your soul darling child."
The child's other aunt, 21-year-old Abbie Littleboy, said: "Me and our family would like to build a memorial bench for our little Ava, please take a read of our story and help raise money for our beautiful angel". Families who were at the beach at that time spoke about their horror as they watched the girl falling and bystanders trying to catch her before the paramedics and one lifeguard tried to save her life. Littleboy was in the area with her family visiting from Suffolk.
Dozens of bouquets and teddy bears have been left at the spot where she fell in tribute and many people showed up to mourn the loss of the girl as well as pay respects to the family. Curt Johnson, the owner of the inflatable play equipment, told the BBC: "We are in complete shock and send our deepest condolences to the family. We are in bits and totally devastated, we can't sleep, can't eat, feel sick to the core."
The authorities made an announcement on July 2 that said Littleboy was the only one on the inflatable trampoline at the time of the accident. She was catapulted into the air when the attraction exploded due to the heatwave that has gripped the country.
One of the witnesses, a 91-year-old man who wished to stay anonymous, said: "If you put two 6ft people on top of each other she still would have flown way above them. One girl called the police and people were clearing the path. The explosion was like a big gun. I was in the Navy and I can tell you that it was an enormous bang." He also spoke about the reaction time from the public and how it was "excellent".
He added: "The lifeguard nearby was great. He straight away left the chair and came across. One girl gave her mouth to mouth and pressure CPR. The people were good and stayed back and kept their distance."
32-year-old Zoe Dye was only a few meters away from the trampoline with her 11-year-old daughter Tiffany when the massive explosion occurred. She said: "Literally there were screams from everyone on the beach and it was almost like slow motion. When the little girl was in the air no one could have done anything but people jumped up to try and catch her but she just dropped. It was everyone's instinct just to try and catch her. My little girl described what she saw as something from a horror film and she is very upset. But it was the case of everyone on the beach just ran."
"People were over there, people were helping, people were trying to get defibrillators and nobody could do anymore than they did. It was brilliant that everyone just pulled together. The little girl was tiny. I know that she was three but she looked younger than that." The hole that the mother and daughter were digging up on the beach is still there.
She said: "I had just taken a photo of my little girl who was digging that hole up. We were just playing and having a good day. She had a week away at school so I thought I would bring her down for a day at the beach to play about and the massive explosion happened. The seconds to follow were just horrific. I called an ambulance and so did many others. The emergency services were brilliant and were here in minutes. The lifeguard too- he did not stop and did absolutely everything that he could."
Superintendent Roger Wiltshire of the Great Yarmouth district and the commander for Norfolk Police spoke of Littleboy's death as "an unspeakable tragedy". He said: "My understanding is that the mother had a conversation with the stall holder and the child went on the equipment. The trampoline was designed just for one person to use and she was the only person there at the time. As far as I understand her mother was watching nearby. I am a dad myself and I cannot imagine what the family are going through. You go to a place like Gorleston for a day out and then this happens."
He then said that the family is being given guidance by specially trained family liason officers.