Boy who wanted to be an astronaut is the third jumping castle victim

EXCLUSIVE: Schoolboy, 12, is revealed as the third victim of jumping castle tragedy as his shattered dad goes to collect his bag and top cop refuses to answer key question about how it unfolded

  • Peter Dodt, 12, has been identified as the third victim of jumping castle tragedy 
  • Students at Devonport primary school fell after inflatable was lifted into the air 
  • Year Six students Addison Stewart and Zane Gardam were killed in the tragedy
  • Police said on Thursday that five children died and four were in hospital
  • Morning started off as calm day before strong wind gusts picked up within hour 
  • Do you know more? Contact [email protected]

The devastated father of a schoolboy who tragically died when a ‘mini-tornado’ lifted a jumping castle 10 metres into the air has remembered him as a ‘mischievous’ boy who dreamed of becoming an astronaut. 

Peter Dodt was celebrating his last day at Hillcrest Primary School in Devonport, northern Tasmania, on Thursday morning when a freak gust of wind lifted the bouncing house off the ground, along with nine children who were playing inside.

The 12-year-old was killed in the disaster, along with four of his classmates – including Addison Stewart and Zane Gardam.

Three more are fighting for life at Royal Hobart hospital, and one was released and will continue to recover at home.

Peter’s aunt Tamara Scott broke down on Friday morning when telling Daily Mail Australia that the boy’s father Andrew Dodt was ‘beyond shattered’.

‘He went to the school this morning to collect his school bag – he felt he had to do that, and he just cuddled it and cried,’ Ms Scott said.

‘He’s unrepairable.’

Pictured: Peter Dodt, 12, who tragically died at a jumping castle disaster on Thursday morning

Peter (pictured) was remembered as a ‘mischievous’ boy who wanted to become an astronaut

Peter is pictured with his father Andrew and his sisters, Chloe (pictured right) and Cassie (pictured left)

The devoted aunt explained Andrew is a single father with sole custody of his four children, but that he and Peter shared a special bond.

‘He loved his dad with everything he had,’ she said.

‘It was him and his dad against the world.’

On Thursday night, Andrew wrote a heartfelt tribute to his ‘baby boy’.

‘My baby boy Peter Dodt has grown his wings this afternoon and left me so heart broken,’ he shared on Facebook.

‘I would do anything in this world just to have him back.

‘Dad loves you so much. Peter, till I see you again in heaven xxxx.’

Ms Scott said her nephew was determined to overcome his ADHD and become an astronaut.

The family set up a Go Fund Me campaign to help Andrew with living and funeral expenses. 

Peter Dodt (pictured), 12, lived in Devonport, Tasmania, with his dad Andrew and his sisters

Peter, 12, was excited to start at Reece High School next year (pictured at the school gates)

Peter (pictured left as a baby and right with his older sisters) was the youngest in his family

At a press conference on Friday morning, police refused to say whether the jumping castle was tied down when into flew the air. 

‘Was the jumping castle tethered at all?’ one reporter asked.

‘That forms part of the investigation,’ Tasmanian Police Commissioner Darren Hine said.

‘It is fair to say that those injured were inside the castle. We need to piece the movements of the individuals together so we can present a full picture to the coroner.’

Seven zorb balls, which are large and inflatable balls that children get stand inside, also took flight during the strong wind gust – but the commissioner again remained tight-lipped about the details.

‘What was the connection with the zorb balls, were they inside the castle or outside?’ a reporter asked. 

‘That will form part of the investigation,’ he said.

‘But my understanding is that the zorb balls were outside. But it will form part of the investigation.’ 

Zane Gardam has been identified as one of the victims in the Devonport jumping castle tragedy

Addison Stewart (pictured) was also one of the five students who was tragically killed when the jumping castle lifted 10 metres in the air

When another journalist tried to ask whether all the young victims were inside the jumping castle at the time, the commissioner gave a very similar response.

‘Again, that forms part of the investigation,’ he said.

‘It is fair to say that those injured were inside the castle. We need to piece the movements of the individuals together so we can present a full picture to the coroner.’ 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday described the tragedy as ‘horrific’ and said he’s been in contact with the Tasmanian Police Commissioner.

‘I want to extend on behalf of the Government, and Jenny and I, our deepest sympathies to all the families and all the community in Devonport for this horrific tragedy that’s occurred with the loss of five young precious lives, and more that hang in the balance,’ he said.

‘I want to thank all the first responders. Our first responders each and every day are trained to deal with some of the most unimaginable things, but on this occasion it goes beyond what they could have imagined at the scene on the ground.’

The Prime Minister, who has two school-age daughters and is a Pentecostal Christian, said he was praying for the victims’ families.

‘As a parent there are no words. There can only be prayers,’ he said.

Police commissioner Hine also said there were close to 40 Year 5 and 6 students taking part in the end-of-term activities at the time.

‘Several adults were also in attendance when the inflatable equipment lifted into the air and they rendered first aid until emergency services arrived,’ he said. 

Harrowing accounts came from eyewitnesses at the scene, who described seeing distraught parents broken down in the gutter, sobbing.

Flags at the Devonport Council chambers were at half mask on Friday morning to honour the young victims.   

Zane (pictutred) was enjoying his last day of primary school when his life was tragically cut short

Hillcrest Primary School graduate Zane (pictured right with dad Tim) was the first of the five victims to be identified

Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein described the tragedy as ‘beyond comprehension’.

‘It is devastating, heartbreaking. It’s just simply incomprehensible. What should have been a celebration for the end of the school year turned into an unfortunate tragedy for our young children at Hillcrest Primary.’

‘As a parent, I cannot understand how the parents of those who have lost children must be feeling.

‘But as a parent, I hope that they can understand that we are all feeling for you as well.’

Tributes have begun pouring in online for the beloved students who have been remembered as a ‘beautiful, caring boy’ and a ‘precious’ girl with a ‘sweet, kind, old soul’.

Zane’s aunt wrote a gut-wrenching tribute to her nephew on Friday morning. 

‘My heart is so heavy and broken, how do I even write this,’ she shared on Facebook.

‘Never would I have imagined I would have to say goodbye to you my boy. Yesterday we lost the most beautiful soul my sisters first baby, my first nephew, our heart and our soul.

‘Thankyou for the out pour of love and support we have all received. Rest easy our beautiful boy, ill live my life everyday for you.’

Two police officers console each other at Hillcrest Primary School, in Tasmania, after four children were killed when a jumping castle flew ten metres into the air 

The school is in Devonport in northern Tasmania (pictured). Hillcrest Primary School had posted online before the accident advertising its ‘Big Day In’ celebration to parents

A GoFundMe page has been launched to help Zane’s grieving family financially through this devastating time.

‘Zane was such a beautiful caring, gentle soul who had challenges growing up with his autism and ADHD but that never set him back he kept achieving,’ the fundraiser reads.

‘This has shook so many people and the community and we want to do anything to help make things a little easier for [his mum] at this hard time.’

Addison’s aunt has also launched a GoFundMe to help her parents as they ‘navigate life without their precious daughter’.

‘My niece was tragically taken in the accident at Hillcrest Primary,’ she wrote.

‘I’m hoping to raise some money for my brother and sister in-law to help pay for funeral costs and to pay off some bills for them while they try and navigate life without their precious daughter.

‘I don’t even know what to write at this stage. Everyone is devastated , she was always such a sweet kind, old soul.

‘We all love you Paddi Melon.’

Tasmanian Police Commissioner Darren Hine (pictured right with the Tasmanian premier) would not say whether the jumping castle was tied down before the disaster struck 

Flowers and teddy bears have started to pile up around the school’s sign as the community pays tribute to the victims 

Distraught police officers were seen consoling each other at the scene of the tragedy, while desperate parents were seen at the gates trying to find out if their children were dead or alive.

Tasmanian Police Commissioner Darren Hine said on Thursday that an investigation will take ‘some time’ as many witnesses needed to be interviewed. 

‘We’ll be supplying a report to the coroner in conjunction with WorkSafe Tasmania,’ Commissioner Hine told reporters on Thursday afternoon.

‘That will take some time to complete and once that’s completed it will be handed to the coroner for an inquest.’

Tasmania’s Education Department will provide support to children, families and staff in coming days and into the school holidays, while counselling has also been offered to first responders.

Bouquets of flowers have been laid at the base of the fence as the community mourns the tragedy 

The jumping castle was blown into the air by a freak gust of wind, killing five kids and leaving several injured (paramedics are pictured at the scene)

‘Our approach is being guided by our senior psychologists, who are trained in trauma-informed practice,’ Secretary Tim Bullard said.

Local resident Connor told Daily Mail Australia his colleague lives across the road from the primary school and ran over when she heard sirens.

‘She first thought there was a shooting,’ he said.

‘She said the scene as horrific and confronting, with children everywhere on the ground.

‘[But] what got her the most was the parents sitting in the gutters, on the side of the road head in hands, crying.’

‘The community is just devastated.’

Two rescue helicopters and multiple ambulances were sent to the scene on Thursday (pictured)

Bob Smith, who lives near the school, said he saw kids on the ground.

‘There was one really strong gust of wind on what is a beautiful calm day,’ he said. 

‘At first we thought it might have been an emergency services training exercise then the reality of what was happening kicked in.’

Within an hour of the tragedy, dozens of frantic parents had rushed to the school and were forced to wait at the entry gates, not knowing whether their children were dead or alive with one claiming they were left in the dark.

‘I’m here now they won’t let us in, it was (child’s name) grade but no one knows who was hurt yet,’ she wrote.

‘I have a friend with children there and he hasn’t heard anything yet,’ another added.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the accident as ‘unthinkably heartbreaking’.

‘Young children on a fun day out, together with their families and it turns to such horrific tragedy. At this time of year, it just breaks your heart,’ he said while on a visit on the NSW Central Coast.

‘It just breaks your heart.’

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