Family of Summer Grant pay tribute to their ‘beautiful angel’ after sentencing of fairground workers
PUBLISHED: 16:39 15 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:39 15 June 2018
supplied by Scala
The grieving parents of a seven-year-old girl who died after the bouncy castle she was playing on in Essex became untethered in high winds have described the pain of losing their “beautiful angel”.
Cara Blackie and Lee Grant spoke about the impact of their daughter Summer Grant’s death two years ago after two fairground workers were both jailed for three years at Chelmsford Crown Court today for manslaughter by gross negligence.
Married couple Shelby and William Thurston also received one year sentences, to run concurrently, for failing to discharge a general health and safety duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Seven-year-old Summer, from Norwich, was trapped inside the Circus Super Dome bouncy castle when high winds blew it into the air. It travelled 300 metres down a hill and struck a tree before coming to rest.
She was taken to hospital but died a short time later.
Shelby Thurston, 25, and William Thurston Jnr, 28, both of Whitecross Road, Wilburton, had not adequately anchored the inflatable to the ground and failed to monitor weather conditions to ensure it was safe for it to be in use, the court heard.
Witnesses told the court it had been raining and windy on the day of the incident.
A yellow weather wind warning was in place and the weather forecast for the coming weekend was stormy, with Storm Katie expected to arrive on March 28.
Summer’s mum, Cara Blackie, from Norwich, said: “I remember walking in and seeing my daughter’s lifeless body. What she went through was just awful, how scared she must have been.
“I sat with her for a while in disbelief not knowing what to think or feel. I felt numb, and in complete shock. This couldn’t be happening to my beautiful Summer.
“The feeling I felt leaving her at the hospital alone will be with me forever. I kept thinking how an earth am I supposed to tell Lily, my younger daughter, that Summer wasn’t coming back.
“The next day Lily came to the hotel and I laid with her on the bed and broke the news. She was only five and didn’t quite understand what I was saying.
“I explained that Summer was now up in the sky with the angels. That night Lily was at the hotel window and we asked what she was doing to which she replied ‘I’m saying good night to Summer’.
“It was killing me inside but I knew I had to be strong for her sake.
“We returned home two days later. I remember pulling up outside my house and the dread and panic of going in with just one of my daughters set in.
“The press were also outside waiting to take photos, which made this experience even worse.
“My sister was at my house waiting for me. She had shut Summer’s bedroom door as I requested as the thought of walking past it knowing she would never play in there nor sleep in there again was too much.
“The date of her funeral quickly came around. I painted her nails blue - her favourite colour - and also put in my glittery high heeled shoes, the shoes Summer wanted to wear on her first night out.
“Her service was fit for a princess, I wanted it to be bright and beautiful, not dark and gloomy. She had a horse drawn carriage and we played her favourite songs.
“Since losing Summer, our lives have changed. We are always aware that Summer is missing, whether it be at a birthday party, a family meal or just snuggled up on the sofa watching a film.
“We have good and bad days but our lives will never be the same. I never thought that my Summer playing and having fun on a bouncy castle would end her young life.
“No amount of words will ever explain how this has affected mine, my daughter’s and the rest of my family’s lives. I have to live with this horrible pain the rest of my life, which no mother should ever have to go through.
“I hope that lessons are learned from this and that changes are made by those who run similar funfairs. I don’t want any other family to go through what we have.”
Summer’s father Lee Grant, from Harlow, said: “When Summer died I felt as if I died too.
“I felt I had nothing left to live for because she was my beautiful angel and had it not been for me still having Lily and my son Charlie and my family’s heartache, I would have been selfish and taken my own life just to be with her.
“I have thought about what happened that day every day and thought about why it happened. It has ruined my life and my family’s life.
“Lily grew up with Summer as a sister and a best friend. She’s only seven now and still very confused.
“She talks about her sister all the time but now has to grow up without her.
“When she talks to me about what happened and about Summer, it’s so hard to listen to because I just want to cuddle her and tell her everything is going to be okay.
“But it’s not going to be okay because we all have to live with this for the rest of our lives.
“We go to Summer’s grave together and read stories or place flowers or figures on the grave and tell her how much we love and miss her.
“We tell Lily its Summer’s special place but as she gets older there are questions she will ask.
“At first I blamed myself for all this because if I hadn’t taken her to the fair it wouldn’t have happened, or if we got there earlier or later.
“But then I thought, as time went by and my head got clearer, there were very serious questions that needed to be answered.
“Why wasn’t the bouncy castle tied down properly? If you are blaming the weather, then why was it put up in that weather in the first place? Did it have a manufacturing fault? Why was one person in charge of two bouncy castles?
“This has affected the family in so many different ways and this is why it hurts me because I know how many of us hurt and how much we all miss Summer.
“I miss her so much and can’t think about Summer without crying.
“She was the most beautiful and polite little girl you could ever know. She helped everyone and was liked and loved by everyone she met. She did not deserve what happened and this should never happen again to anyone.
“I just want to cry and cry and someone to tell me this is a really long horrible dream. But it’s not, it’s very real and hurts so much.
“These people who are responsible don’t know the pain we feel and probably never will.”
Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten, senior investigating officer, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “I often think of Summer.
“The words of her parents Cara and Lee will bring a lump to the throat of anyone that reads them.
“My dearest thoughts are with Summer, Cara, Lee, Lily and their wider family. I wish the family peace for the future.”