Twelve members of a high school marching band were injured, including four critically, when a parade vehicle plowed into them at the start of a Mardi Gras parade route in Gulf Shores, Alabama, Tuesday morning.
The band, from Gulf Shores High School, was rounding a corner about a block before the crowds lined the street when a vehicle behind them suddenly accelerated and hit the group from behind, the Associated Press reported. Witnesses said the SUV had an “MOAA” sign on its side.
Gulf Shores public information officer Grant Brown said a 73-year-old man from Gulf Shores, Alabama, was at the wheel of the “late model SUV” that surged forward and mowed into the band. Authorities do not believe the crash was intentional and it’s uncertain whether the accident was the result of a mechanical or human error. Authorities will continue to investigate the possible causes.
“Every indication is that it was a tragic accident by an elderly man,” Gulf Shores Police Chief Ed Delmore said, according to CNN.
The band members injured range in age from 12 to 17. Nine of the injured students were taken to South Baldwin Regional Medical Center in Foley, Alabama. Two patients were taken to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Florida, and one patient was taken to Baptist Hospital in Pensacola.
Four of the injured students are in critical condition. Authorities have not said what the nature or extent of their injuries are.
The accident is the second major traffic accident associated with Mardi Gras parades along the Gulf Coast this year. On Saturday evening, a 25-year-old man crashed into a crowd gathered to watch the Krewe of Endymion parade in New Orleans, injuring 28 people. The man, identified as Neilson Rizzuto, had a blood-alcohol limit nearly three times the legal limit. He has been charged with two counts of first-degree vehicular negligence resulting in injury, and one count each of reckless operation and hit-and-run driving, with more charges possible.