Wichita City Council OKs tougher rules on inflatables

Wichita leaders approved new measures Tuesday aimed at better safeguarding children on inflatable, moonbounce-style rides.

City Council members voted 6-1 to support the tougher restrictions. They were prompted in part by the death of 5-year-old Matthew Branham, who fell from an inflatable ride at a west Wichita indoor playground in March and hit his head on a concrete floor.

Council member Paul Gray voted against the ordinance.

There was no council discussion of the measures Tuesday morning. At a meeting last month, Gray said the new regulations likely would not prevent accidents like the one that killed Matthew.

"You can't protect everybody and everything," Gray said at the July 20 meeting. "We're doing everything we can, but we're not going to save the world with this."

The amended ordinance will toughen ride inspections and require anyone operating inflatables — including nonprofit groups that own rides and families who rent them for private parties — to be trained in proper setup, safety and emergency procedures.

It also requires inspection and safety information to be posted near inflatable rides and would allow police to cite people who use rides in an unsafe manner.

Many of the proposed changes mirror a state law that regulates portable amusement rides. The state law, however, exempts inflatables.

Owners of Pure Entertainment, the facility near Kellogg and Tyler where Matthew suffered his fatal fall March 22, say they plan to reopen after their 90-day license suspension is lifted. In May, the council suspended owner Duane Zogleman's license for 90 days, saying he did not have his rides properly inspected.

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