Watchdog’s figures lead to a call for the play equipment to be on soft surfaces

A child safety watchdog has raised concerns about bouncy castles after a boy suffered a serious head injury at an amusement centre in Hawkes Bay.

Zaybein Wathey, 10, remains in Starship children's hospital in Auckland with a double skull fracture sustained after falling head-first on to concrete at Inflatable World in Napier.

SafeKids director Ann Weaver yesterday released figures provided by Starship showing 16 children with serious injuries from bouncy castles had been admitted to the hospital in the past five years.



"Considering how many children participate in these kinds of activities there is a low number who require hospitalisation but when it does happen it can be quite severe, as we've seen with this latest case."

Ms Weaver said playgrounds had to be on soft surfaces such as rubber or grass and she believed bouncy castles should be too.

"It's a concern for me that they are being inflated on top of concrete."

Zaybein suffered a 25-minute seizure after the incident on July 7.

His mother, Haley Wathey, said her son fell head-first on to concrete after an inflated column came loose and exposed a concrete hole. Everyone heard a huge "thwack" when he hit the ground, she said.

The boy was flown to Starship where he is still experiencing intense headaches and tiredness.

It's understood another person broke a leg at the centre an hour after Zaybein's incident.

Yesterday, another complaint about the centre emerged.

Napier mother Flora Scheuerl said she dropped her 6-year-old son Hans at a birthday party there on June 26.

When she returned she found Hans sitting quietly while the other children played, she said.

"I was told that he had a hard fall. He had landed on his head on an exposed piece of concrete."

Hans began vomiting and was rushed to the emergency department, Mrs Scheuerl said.

Inflatable World director Gary Adamson said all three incidents were being investigated by the company, which has 11 branches.

Management decided on Monday to close the Napier centre temporarily while it investigated what safety procedures were in place. The other outlets were still operating.

Worksafe NZ is also investigating the injuries to Zaybein.

Mr Adamson said he intended on making the findings public.

"We'll do whatever we can to help there but at the moment we're focused on making sure that this doesn't happen anywhere else at Inflatable World and getting it right for the safety of our customers."

Mr Adamson said Zaybein's injury was "devastating" and the company had offered its support to his family.

Meanwhile Zaybein's mother has found Nevenka Pervan, the woman who cradled her son after his fall.

"It took at least a week and a bit ... I just thanked her and thanked her ... she was an angel. I spoke to the medical team and they said if she had moved him he would have suffered severe brain damage.

"She was his lifesaver. She was there the whole time, she held him like he was her own while he was having seizures in her arms and she was calm and protective. She is part of the family now. As soon as he is better we are going to see her and say thank you."

An ACC spokeswoman said there had been about 774 incidents relating to bouncy castles or inflatable objects in 2014 and about 392 this year.