Five children killed in bouncy castle tragedy are named – as families pay tribute

Families are paying tribute to the five children who were killed in a bouncy castle tragedy at an Australian primary school after they were named by police. 

Christmas lights have also been turned off and a candlelight vigil held for those who died.

Schoolchildren at Hillcrest Primary School in Devonport, Tasmania, had been celebrating the end of the school year when a sudden gust of wind lifted the bouncy castle almost 33ft into the air.

Police said those killed on Friday were Addison Stewart, 11, Zane Mellor, 12, Jye Sheehan, 12, Jalailah Jayne-Maree Jones, 12, and Peter Dodt, 12.

‘Everyone is devastated’

Friends and family have launched fundraisers in the hope of collecting money for the victims’ parents as they prepare to spend Christmas without their children.

Meg Aherne, Addison Stewart’s aunt, said she was struggling to come up with words as the whole family had been left “devastated”.

“I don’t even know what to write at this stage. Everyone is devastated, she was always a sweet kind, old soul,” she wrote on a GoFundMe page set up for Addison’s family.

Zane Mellor was described by a family friend as a “beautiful, caring, gentle soul” who was never set back by his challenges of autism and ADHD.

Grace Johnston said she was trying to do what she could to support Zane’s mother, George Gardam, who she said had been hit “hard” by the tragedy.

“We would like to help raise some funds to assist Georgie and her family in this hard time after the tragic loss of her gorgeous boy Zane who was one of those tragically lost in the incident at Hillcrest Primary,” she said.

More than $28,000 (£15,000) has so far been donated.

Town rallies around families

With a population of around 25,000, the town has rallied to support the families of the victims and the wider community around the school where the accident took place.

On Thursday, a candlelight vigil was held outside the school and some residents turned off their Christmas lights out of respect for the victims.

Devonport mayor Annette Rockliff said the tragedy would “undoubtedly rock the close-knit community for a long time”.

“As mayor, my heart aches for my community. As a mother and a grandmother, I am rocked to the core,” she said.

“What should have been a day full of fun and celebration for the last day of the school year has ended in an unimaginable way.”

Ms Rockliff said the Australian flag was being flown at half-mast over the town hall.

Tasmania premier Peter Gutwein described the incident as “utterly devastating and heartbreaking”.

One woman, named Michelle, said it was “almost unbelievable” as she laid flowers outside the school, which her own children had attended years earlier.

“At work yesterday, you almost could not believe it after hearing what happened.”

‘Unbelievably heartbreaking’

Three children are still in hospital in a critical condition after the accident on Thursday, and one child has been discharged.

State broadcaster ABC News reported that the castle was being used during an end-of-year celebration at the school.

The school was closed for the rest of the day, and parents and carers were asked to urgently collect their children, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was a “freak accident that will leave families completely devastated”, and described the events as “just shattering” and “unthinkably heartbreaking”.

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