A small southern Utah town is in shock over the death of a 9-year-old girl who was killed last week after a strong wind gust picked up the backyard trampoline she was sitting on and sent it flying more than 150 feet.
Sheriff's officials in Garfield County say Oaklee Sidwell was playing with friends on the trampoline last Tuesday at her home in Panguitch, a town of about 1,600, when the freak gust of wind descended on the area.
The girl was the last one sitting on the large trampoline, putting on her shoes, when the trampoline was sent airborne by the wind. She fell off the trampoline at some point before it came to rest half a football field away, authorities said.
The child was later flown to a Salt Lake City hospital, where she died the following day from multiple injuries. Panguitch is about 250 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Since the girl's death, residents of have rushed into action.
“It was such a terrible thing -- like something out of 'The Wizard of Oz' -- we’re all just shocked over this,” Panguitch resident Julie Hatch told the Los Angeles Times.
“A little girl was out there playing and something like this has to happen. People are having a hard time coping, you know, moving on.”
Hatch told The Times that residents have placed several collection boxes around town to help defray funeral costs.
There is also a charity rodeo scheduled for this weekend.
“This is a very small town, people here know each other, so something like this is hard to take,” Hatch said. “I work for the post office, and the girl’s father drove a mail truck to our smaller places. Her mom worked at the hospital.”
She paused. “We’re all just crushed by this.”
Authorities say the trampoline was properly assembled, was anchored to the ground and had a safety net.
“That’s why people here are wondering: How did this ever happen?” Hatch told The Times.