Bounce houses a party hit but kids' injuries soar
by Lindsey Tanner
CHICAGO - They may be a big hit at kids' birthday parties, but inflatable bounce houses can be dangerous, with the number of injuries soaring in recent years, a nationwide study found.
Kids often crowd into bounce houses, and jumping up and down can send other children flying into the air, too.
The numbers suggest 30 U.S. children a day are treated in emergency rooms for broken bones, sprains, cuts and concussions from bounce house accidents. Most involve children falling inside or out of the inflated playthings, and many children get hurt when they collide with other bouncing kids.
The number of children aged 17 and younger who got emergency-room treatment for bounce house injuries has climbed along with the popularity of bounce houses - from fewer than 1,000 in 1995 to nearly 11,000 in 2010. That's a 15-fold increase, and a doubling just since 2008.
"I was surprised by the number, especially by the rapid increase in the number of injuries," said lead author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Amusement parks and fairs have bounce houses, and the playthings can also be rented or purchased for home use.
Smith and colleagues analyzed national surveillance data on ER treatment for nonfatal injuries linked with bounce houses, maintained by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Their study was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Only about 3 percent of children were hospitalized, mostly for broken bones.
More than one-third of the injuries were in children aged 5 and younger. The safety commission recommends against letting children younger than 6 use full-size trampolines, and Smith said barring kids that young from even smaller, home-use bounce houses would make sense.
"There is no evidence that the size or location of an inflatable bouncer affects the injury risk," he said.
Other recommendations, often listed in manufacturers' instruction pamphlets, include not overloading bounce houses with too many kids and not allowing young children to bounce with much older, heavier kids or adults, said Laura Woodburn, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials.
The study didn't include deaths, but some accidents are fatal. Separate data from the product safety commission show four bounce house deaths from 2003 to 2007, all involving children striking their heads on a hard surface.
Several nonfatal accidents occurred last year when bounce houses collapsed or were lifted by high winds.
A group that issues voluntary industry standards says bounce houses should be supervised by trained operators and recommends that bouncers be prohibited from doing flips and purposefully colliding with others, the study authors noted.
Bounce house injuries are similar to those linked with trampolines, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended against using trampolines at home. Policymakers should consider whether bounce houses warrant similar precautions, the authors said.
19 bodies found in northern Mexico, former mayor Maria Gorrostieta also killed
by The Associated Press
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Nineteen bodies have been discovered in Mexico's northern border state of Chihuahua, officials reported Sunday, including 11 apparently long-dead men found in mass graves and eight others who were tortured and killed in recent days.
Also, according to a BBC report, the former mayor of a Mexican town -- who survived two earlier assassination attempts-- was found in a ditch, beaten to death. The body of 36-year-old Maria Santos Gorrostieta, ex-mayor of the western town of Tiquecheo from 2008 to 2011, was found three days after her family reported her missing, according to a BBC report.
The state prosecutor's office for missing people said 11 bodies were found in Ejido Jesus Carranza, near the U.S. border about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Ciudad Juarez. The area of sand dunes is a popular spot for picnickers from Juarez, which is just across the border from El Paso, Texas.
Officials said the male victims were apparently buried two years ago at the height of battles between drug gangs seeking to control routes across the border. Federal statistics showed more than 3,000 people were killed that year in Ciudad Juarez, a city of 1.4 million, making it one of the most dangerous places on earth.
Prosecutors also said that officials had found eight bodies tossed along a road near Rosales, about 120 miles (200 kilometers) southwest of Ojinaga, Texas. The agency said the men apparently were kidnapped on Friday and were discovered on Saturday. It said they had been shot in the head after being tortured. Some had been burned, beaten and had eyes carved out.
Tips on remaining safe in a carjacking attempt
by Gary Richards
In light of the fatal shooting at a 7-Eleven store in San Jose recently in an apparent carjacking attempt, how about a reminder on how not to be a victim of carjacking? What tips do police offer?
from Gary Manazores -- San Jose
A This is tough because conditions can vary so much from one incident to another. But here are some suggestions from San Jose police.
- Park in a well-lit area away from obstructions.
- Be alert and always look around for suspicious people.
- Do not leave valuables in plain view. Place items in the trunk.
- While driving, lock your doors and leave enough room to make it around other cars if you sense danger.
- If you are stopped by a would-be car thief, listen carefully to his demands.
- Do not make any sudden movements when confronted.
- Do not be confrontational, and do as you are told. Your vehicle is not worth a potentially life-threatening situation.
- Although difficult, try to remember as much detail about the encounter as possible, such as words spoken, physical description, clothing, accent, distinguishing scars, marks or tattoos.
- Report the incident as soon as possible.
Former golden boy turned cold-blooded killer may be hiding among Mormons, says FBI
A former golden boy turned cold-blooded killer may be hiding among Mormons, says the FBI. The bureau tells ABCNews.com that Jason Derek Brown, one of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted fugitives, is skilled at blending in with different crowds.
Mr. Brown is wanted for murder and armed robbery in Phoenix, Arizona. In November of 2004, the murder suspect allegedly shot and killed Robert Keith Palomares, an armored car guard, outside a move theater and stole $56,000 in cash before escaping on a bicycle to his getaway car.
The FBI says that Mr. Brown's background suggests that he has the ability to turn himself into someone he is not. An FBI most wanted flyer notes that that murder suspect speaks fluent French and has a Masters Degree in International Business. He is also an avid golfer, snowboarder, skier and dirt biker. The flyer also says that Mr. Brown has been known to frequent nightclubs and enjoys showing off his high-priced vehicles, boats and toys.
“It's a possibility because of Jason's familiarity with the Mormon church,” Special Agent Manuel Johnson tells ABCNews.com. “Prior to the shooting he was involved in different types of fraud, so he's not who he claims to be and we could see him taking advantage of people.”
Mr. Brown is a former resident of Salt Lake City and served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in France.
According to The Associated Press, the last confirmed sighting of Mr. Brown was in Salt Lake City, when a friend saw the fugitive stopped at a red light near the Hogle Zoo. This is close to where the suspect lived several months before Mr. Palomares was killed.
FBI Agent Lance Leising, who has been working on the case for several years, tells The Salt Lake Tribune that Mr. Brown is a skilled liar and adept at convincing people that he is someone other than himself. Agent Leising believes that the murder suspect could be taking advantage of a Mormon church member's philanthropy in order to survive in the Mormon community.
“With the commonness of his name and how he looks, like a surfer dude in California, we've had more tips (for this) fugitive than any other on ‘America's Most Wanted.' It's caused us to chase leads all around the world,” Mr. Leising tells the newspaper.
According to the FBI, their search for Mr. Brown has turned up plenty of leads but no suspect. The Daily Beast reported in June that the murder suspect's uncanny resemblance to actor Sean Penn has caused FBI agents to mistakenly arrest Mr. Penn's body double on more than one occasion.
Prior to his disappearance and murder charge, Mr. Brown wrote letters home from France while serving as a missionary.
“There are days that are really really tough when no one wants to listen to us and you just wonder whats this all about,” he wrote in January 1989 to his father's parents, according to The Daily Beast. “Then there are days that you have a baptism and your on top of the world wishing you never had to come down.”
“The Ghost,” by Paige Williams, offers a gripping narrative of Mr. Brown's path from golden boy to cold-blooded killer.
“He left his family with artifacts of a life interrupted, unexplained, unfulfilled,” Ms. Williams writes. “He left Arizona as Phoenix scrambled to find the killer of a twenty-four-year-old armored-car guard, shot five times in the face. He left it all and still he lingers, because that's what ghosts do. They haunt.”
The FBI warns that Mr. Brown may be in possession of a Glock 9mm and a .45 caliber handgun. The fugitive has ties to California, Utah and Arizona.
An arrest warrant was issued for Mr. Brown in 2004. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of Mr. Brown.