A child was killed Saturday morning after the driver of a truck pulling a float in a Christmas parade in Raleigh, North Carolina, lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a dance troupe, police said.
The 20-year-old driver lost control and struck the child “at a low rate of speed,” Raleigh Police Lt. Jason Borneo said in a statement Saturday afternoon. Two other people were in the truck at the time, he said.
“Despite life-saving efforts by medical personnel, the child died as a result of her injuries,” Borneo said.
No one else was injured, police said.
“Today started off with such joy,” Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin wrote on Twitter. “The Raleigh Christmas Parade bring smiles to so many faces. My heart was so full. And now it aches for the young girl hit in a tragic accident on the parade route. Praying for her, her family and our community.”
Helicopter video from WTVD shows a white pick-up truck driving through a crowd of dancers, causing some to move out of the way as others can be seen running. Video from the ground shows officers and parade-goers rushing to the truck and leaning up against it, attempting to grind the vehicle to a halt.
The driver of the truck screamed out of the window that he had lost control and couldn’t stop the vehicle, witnesses told WTVD.
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Cheyenne Hamilton, 17, told The News Observer the parade had just started when the driver of one of her dance troupe’s floats lost control.
“The float behind us, their brakes started not working. And they were trying to get us all out of the way. But unfortunately, one of the dancers was not able to get out of the way,” Hamilton told the outlet.
Girls from the dance company could be seen crying and being hugged by family members, WRAL-TV reported.
“We are devastated,” said Christy Curtis, owner of the CC & Co. Dance Complex. “Our dance family is a close-knit group and today our hearts are broken. We are working closely with authorities as they determine what happened and why.”
Officers interviewed the driver, who cooperated with detectives, police said. The driver was charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, careless and reckless, improper equipment, unsafe movement and carrying a firearm in a parade, police said.
“Our hearts go out to the family of the victim and those who witnessed this tragic incident. The victim’s family has asked for privacy during this very difficult time,” police said in a statement. “Additional information will be provided as the investigation continues.”
The incident comes nearly a year to the day after a man drove an SUV through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing six people and injuring dozens more. The man was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday.
Lawmakers and local organizations expressed their support online for people affected by the incident Saturday.
“Praying for those who were injured at the Raleigh Christmas parade this morning,” U.S. Rep. Deborah Ross, D-N.C., wrote on Twitter.
The Holly Springs High School Dance Program in Holly Springs, North Carolina, said it was sending “prayers for the dancer, family, and the CC & Co. dance community.”
The dance troupe, CC & Co. Dance Complex, shared images to social media early Saturday, writing the dancers were “so excited” to be in this year’s parade.