'She went up so high, it was higher than my house'
London - The aunt of a little girl told an inquest on Monday of the horrific moment when a giant beach inflatable burst and threw her niece high into the air to her death.
Abbie Littleboy said she heard a deafening bang then saw three-year-old Ava-May somersaulting five or six times before hitting the ground.
Miss Littleboy, who had treated her niece to the bouncy trampoline at Gorleston Beach, Norfolk, said: ‘There was a really loud bang. It was as if someone had set off a cannon. It was the loudest bang I had ever heard. Ava took the full force of it. In a second, I looked up and saw Ava in the air.
‘She was just flipping. When I first looked I saw her face. Her eyes were closed and she didn’t scream or make a noise… her arms and legs were dangling. She flipped over five or six times before she came back down. I just saw her little ponytail.’
Miss Littleboy, 23, ran across the sands to tell Ava-May’s parents and other relatives what had happened. ‘I ran to my sister screaming the whole way. I was out of breath and just said “Ava, now”,’ she said in a statement.
‘I saw my mum and I kept saying “Ava’s gone, Ava’s gone”. I knew she had died.’
The inquest also heard of a desperate attempt to catch Ava-May.
Miss Littleboy’s best friend Beth Jones had screamed ‘Catch her’ and a funfair worker ‘had her arms fully out to try and catch her but she couldn’t as it was so quick’. In a statement, Miss Jones, a 26-year-old nurse, added: ‘She went up so high, it was higher than my house. There was a massive thud and Ava came down on her face and tummy. I wasn’t close enough to catch her.’
Miss Jones tried to revive Ava-May with the help of members of the public and lifeguards before she was taken to hospital.
But sadly the little girl was declared dead after suffering severe head injuries in the tragedy in July 2018.
Ava-May’s mother, Chloe Littleboy, 27, told of finding her daughter lying on the sand, not breathing.
‘It was like being stuck in a horrible nightmare. It was all happening in front of me and I was hoping I would wake up from it,’ she said.
‘Although I was screaming, I couldn’t actually cry. I just stood there shaking and screaming.’ She went in the ambulance with her partner Nathan Rowe, 36, to James Paget Hospital in Gorleston as medics tried to save their daughter.
‘Nathan was holding her hands and I was holding her feet, which was something she had always loved,’ said Miss Littleboy, of Little Somersham, Suffolk.
‘When they said she was no longer alive, it felt my whole world had crashed. I just kept telling her I loved her again and again.’
Miss Littleboy, an administration worker, said they had bought her a kite plus a bucket and spade after arriving at the seaside from their new caravan at a nearby holiday park.
Mr Rowe, a former soldier who is now working in sales, said: ‘My heart is scattered all over that beach. I will never go back there as long as I live.’
The inquest in Norwich also heard from engineer Alan Ellis, who has experience working on high buildings.
He claimed Ava-May was propelled up to 40ft up from the Bounce About site as if ‘she had been fired by a cannon’.
The hearing continues.Daily Mail