An SUV driven by an elderly man plowed into a Mardi Gras parade crowd in Gulf Shores, Alabama, on Tuesday, injuring a dozen members of a high school marching band and prompting the event to be canceled, city and police officials said.
Of the 12 students hurt, four were critically injured, Gulf Shores spokesman Grant Brown said at a news conference. The driver, who was not identified, did not suffer any injuries and had not been charged.
“This was not involving drugs or alcohol, nor is there any indication that this was an intentional act,” Gulf Shores Police Chief Edward Delmore told reporters. “Every indication is that this was just a tragic accident by an elderly man driving his vehicle.”
Local media reports said the driver appeared to hit the gas pedal rather than the brakes, but Delmore said police were still investigating what caused the driver to lose control.
The incident came just days after a drunk driver was accused of hurtling a pickup truck into a crowd of spectators at a weekend Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, injuring 28 people in a crash that brought chaos to the city’s signature celebration.
In Alabama, police were seeking photos or videos from people who witnessed the crash there.
The Gulf Shores Mardi Gras parade dates back to 1978, when residents decided the city needed a public procession for the annual celebration, according to the city’s website.
“This is the parade that’s been going on for 39 years. These are our children, these are our people,” Brown said. “I don’t know how this happened. It is horrible.”
(Reporting by Letitia Stein and Gina Cherelus; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and David Gregorio)