Luzelena Herrera says she and about 59 other students were at the home of Commerce Middle School's principal, celebrating eighth grade graduation.
"I was playing basketball," says Herrera.
School-sponsored outdoor activities were in full swing during sustained winds yesterday of 35 MPH and wind gusts as strong as 48 MPH. One of those gusts turned the fun area into a place of terror and confusion.
"He made a comment, he said, oh my...," says Commerce Schools Superintendent Jim Haynes.
Haynes was at the property, talking to a school staff member. An inflatable play area, similar to a bounce house, was hurled into the sky.
"It came to rest in some trees, probably 30 to 40 yards from where it was staked down," says Haynes.
One student hit a tree limb.
"Her eyes were rolled back. She had a concussion, I think," says Herrera.
That student was eventually transferred to a hospital in Tulsa. Another student was taken to Freeman Hospital. Haynes says three other teenagers who were on the inflatable had less severe injuries.
Herrera has been praying for her friends, especially the two taken to hospitals.
"Go through surgery well. We'll just pray," says Herrera.
Herrera remembers an uneasy feeling about that inflatable, just before the accident. She was thinking about the possibility of strong winds blowing the inflatable away.
"There were a couple others (inflatables) that were there, but they felt like they weren't safe to be blowing up because of the wind conditions," says Haynes.
We asked Haynes who had those concerns.
"The company that installed them," says Haynes.
Workers at the rental company that owns the inflatables declined making any comment. Herrera's mom says rental companies should have standard rules for when inflatables can't be used during strong winds. An Oklahoma Department of Labor official says there are rules; but they vary, since the state follows each inflatable's own guidelines.
Haynes says both teenagers who were most severely injured are expected to make a full recovery. Haynes and Herrera say it appeared the inflatable was properly staked to the ground.
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