Girl, 9, Dies a Week After the Bounce House She Was Playing in Was Blown Into Power Lines
Hundreds gathered to honor Elizabeth "Lizzy" Hammond on Friday morning before her organs were donated
A 9-year-old girl died Friday after a tragic bounce house accident last weekend.
Elizabeth “Lizzy” Hammond and two other children were playing in a bounce house in Reno, Nevada last Sunday when the bounce house was lifted about 10 feet into the air by the wind, getting caught in neighborhood power lines, according to the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, the Associated Press reported Friday.
Hammond was seriously injured and rushed to hospital in a critical condition. The other two children with her only received minor injuries, AP reported.
The Sheriff’s Office spokesman told the outlet that an investigation into the accident is still ongoing. The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Although she was young, her family described in a statement Friday a girl who loved to give back to her community, and regularly “enjoyed feeding the homeless, shopping with the Sheriff, building care packages for local soldiers deployed overseas and providing school supplies to less-fortunate children in the area.”
“Our precious Lizzy was a beautiful, intelligent, silly, vibrant little girl who was full of life,” the statement said, per local ABC station KOLO8. “She was a daughter, granddaughter, sister, cousin, teammate and beloved friend.”
“Lizzy was a confirmed Catholic and an active member of her church, St. Alberts,” the family’s statement said, adding that she “loved all first responders” and was “extremely patriotic and wholeheartedly supported the U.S. military, as well as her local police, sheriff, and fire departments.”
“She was a warm, kind, and selfless girl who loved everyone and everything,” the statement continued. “Given Lizzy’s generous spirit, she will be donating her organs which will allow her to help upwards of 80-100 children nationwide. We believe from the bottom of our hearts that giving this gift of life to others would have been her wishes.”
The Hammond family called her a “guardian angel” for the lives that she will be saving even in her death.
“We believe that her beautiful spirit will carry on within the individuals that she helps,” the statement said, before concluding with thanks to “members of the Nevada National Guard, Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District, Reno Fire Department, REMSA, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and the wonderful nurses and doctors that helped and supported Lizzy through her final days with us.”
“We are truly heartbroken for the family,” said Sheriff Darin Balaam in a statement to the AP.
Balaam added, “I speak on behalf of every deputy, firefighter, trooper, dispatcher, and medic who responded to this incident as well as all area first responders when I say to the family ‘our prayers are with you, our thoughts are with you and we are here to help in any way that we can.’”
Hammond’s love for her community was returned on Friday, as hundreds — including family, friends, members of Hammond’s soccer team, first responders and law enforcement, even the family dog — turned out for the honor walk at the Renown Regional Medical Center on Friday as the young girl was taken to surgery to donate her organs.
Local news station 2News reported that the walk was the largest the hospital has ever seen, describing the medical center’s lobby as “packed” with people there to honor Hammond.
While a shocking tragedy, bounce house accidents are not as unusual as one might expect.
More than 82,000 people were injured on inflatable structures between 2008 and 2013, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Washington Post reported.
Researchers found that bounce house injuries were on the rise, based on the 2012 study, “Pediatric Inflatable Bouncer-Related Injuries in the United States, 1990-2010.”
“Strong winds and poor anchoring can result in either the sets collapsing or becoming airborne, which can cause series – sometimes fatal – accidents,” the report’s analysis says. “Although these bounce houses are manufactured with safety in mind, the installations are not always inspected and well-regulated.”