Car crashes into parade; 50-60 injured
DAMASCUS, Va. — About 50 to 60 people were injured on Saturday when a driver described by witnesses as an elderly man drove his car into a group of hikers marching in a parade in a small Virginia mountain town.
It happened around 2:10 p.m. during the Hikers Parade at the Trail Days festival, an annual celebration of the Appalachian Trail in Damascus, near the Tennessee state line about a half-hour's drive east of Bristol.
Washington County director of emergency management Pokey Harris said no fatalities had been reported.
The injuries ranged from critical to superficial, he said. Three of the victims were flown by helicopters to regional hospitals. Another 12 to 15 were taken by ambulance. The rest were treated at the scene.
At a news conference, Damascus police Chief Bill Nunley did not release the driver's name or age but said he was participating in the parade. Multiple witnesses described him as an elderly man.
Nunley said the man's 1997 Cadillac was one of the last vehicles in the parade and the driver might have suffered an unspecified medical problem when his car accelerated to about 25 mph and struck the crowd on a two-lane bridge along the town's main road. The driver was among those taken to hospitals.
“It is under investigation and charges may be placed,” Nunley said.
There were ambulances in the parade ahead of the hikers and paramedics on board immediately responded to the crash.
Nunley cited the “quick action” by police, firefighters, paramedics and hikers to tend to the victims, including a Damascus volunteer firefighter who dived into the car to turn off the ignition. The firefighter, whose name was not released, suffered minor injuries.
Nunley said about 1,000 people participated in the parade. The chief said the driver was a hiker, too — someone who had traversed the Appalachian Trail in the past.
What caused the car to drive into the crowd was not immediately known. A thud could be heard, people yelled “Stop!” and at some point, the car finally stopped.
Witnesses said the car had a handicapped parking sticker, and it went more than 100 feet before coming to a stop.
“He was hitting hikers,” said Vickie Harmon, a witness from Damascus. “I saw hikers just go everywhere.”
Damascus resident Amanda Puckett, who was watching the parade with her children, ran to the car, where she and others lifted the vehicle off those pinned underneath.
“Everybody just threw our hands up on the car, and we just lifted the car up,” Puckett said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- More rain worsens flooding in Texas
- Texas man charged with helping friend’s bid to join ISIS
- Shootings, slayings surge during Memorial Day weekend in Chicago, Baltimore
- IRS says hackers stole tax info from 100,000
- ‘Free-range’ parents cleared of neglect
- Oregon proposal would outlaw sneak photos up women’s skirts
- U.S. troops, Defense Department employees used government charge cards in casinos, strip clubs, report says
- Cleveland agrees to overhaul police under settlement with Justice Department
- Airman kills 1 in North Dakota store
- Gouging rare in loans to troops
- $5.6B in education tax credits dubious