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Twelve members of the Gulf Shores marching band were struck and injured by a 2008 Ford Expedition driven by a 73-year-old Fairhope man during the start of the city's annual Mardi Gras parade Tuesday, forcing its cancellation and creating a chaotic scene...

12 band members struck by vehicle at Alabama Mardi Gras parade

Twelve members of the Gulf Shores marching band were struck and injured by a 2008 Ford Expedition driven by a 73-year-old Fairhope man during the start of the city's annual Mardi Gras parade Tuesday, forcing its cancellation and creating a chaotic scene...

12 band members struck by vehicle at Alabama Mardi Gras parade

Twelve members of the Gulf Shores marching band were struck and injured by a 2008 Ford Expedition driven by a 73-year-old Fairhope man during the start of the city's annual Mardi Gras parade Tuesday, forcing its cancellation and creating a chaotic scene at the parade's starting point.

Of the 12, three were listed in critical but stable condition at hospitals where the injured were taken to in Foley, Pensacola and Mobile. The age range of the injured students was from 12 to 17 years old, and involved a mix of middle school and high school students who comprise the marching band.

"We are very saddened by this event," Gulf Shores city spokesman Grant Brown said. "This is 39 years that this parade has been going on. These are our children, these are our friends and our people. To have this happen is horrible."

Police are investigating the incident as a "tragic accident" which occurred around 10:05 a.m. as the parade began on Gulf Shores Parkways near Clubhouse Drive. The stretch of the parkway, which is part of Ala. 59, was shut down for most of the day prompting motorists to be re-routed to alternative routes to leave the beach area.

Gulf Shores Police Chief Ed Delmore said the driver, whose name he declined to release, was not driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Delmore also said there was no indication that the incident was intentional.

"We are certain at this point it was not an intentional act and that it was an accident," Delmore said. "Beyond that, we are still investigating and don't want to speculate on the dynamics of what happened."

Delmore said that police have custody of the vehicle and that the driver was being cooperative in submitting to blood tests and questioning. He said it could be "weeks" before the investigation is wrapped up.

Mardi Gras: 'One time of year people can act like fools' REbecca Santana, Janet McConnaughey

The streets of New Orleans are filled with costumed revelers, dazzling floats featuring kings and queens, and people of all ages screaming for trinkets and beads. Lots of beads.

Tuesday marks the culmination of the Carnival season, which started Jan. 6.

Mardi Gras is "the one time of year people...

The streets of New Orleans are filled with costumed revelers, dazzling floats featuring kings and queens, and people of all ages screaming for trinkets and beads. Lots of beads.

Tuesday marks the culmination of the Carnival season, which started Jan. 6.

Mardi Gras is "the one time of year people...

(REbecca Santana, Janet McConnaughey)

"Like any kind of investigation of this type, we have to look at the human factor and the equipment factor," said Delmore. "Part of that is to look at the equipment and the black box and we combine all of those things to find a conclusion of what happened, not to mention we are looking at video of the incident and witness statements. It takes time."

Delmore said an FBI agent in Mobile contacted his office offering assistance, but police declined it.

"Learning that it was not an intentional act and not anything strictly of a criminal nature, we denied the assistance," Delmore said. "We do appreciate them reaching out to us."

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, in a statement, said he's directed the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to assist Gulf Shores police with any resources they may need. The governor thanked the first responders and emergency personnel for their work in assisting the injured.

"To the students, band members, families and community, please know I, and the people of this state, are praying for you," Bentley said in the statement.

Brown said the Ford Expedition was part of the parade, and was associated with the American Legion honor guard. The vehicle had a "MOAA" banner on the side of it, which stands for the Military Officers Association of American.

Brown said he was unsure what the man's affiliation was with the group, which is based out of Virginia.

The MOAA, in a statement, said they were aware of the accident that involved a vehicle representing "the local MOAA chapter."

"We have been made aware of the incident and our staff is gathering facts at this time," said Jonathan Withington, a spokesman with the organization. "We don't know the circumstances and we're unaware of the cause of the incident involving our Gulf Shores Chapter. We're concerned about those who have been injured and our hearts and prayers go out to them and their families as they deal with this unfortunate mishap."

Baldwin County Schools Superintendent Eddie Tyler said counselors will be on duty Wednesday to meet with students in Gulf Shores. The school system was off Tuesday in recognition of the Mardi Gras holiday, which is celebrated in communities throughout the Gulf Coast.

"It's tough. It's difficult," said Tyler. "We got a great family, law enforcement, the city of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. It's a special county."

Brown said the city had not received specific updates about the injured students, saying that privacy laws and insurance prohibited the release of that information.

The parade's abrupt cancellation caused confusion along the route, which consisted of all of Alabama 59 from the Intercoastal Waterway Bridge toward the beach. Word spread on social media about the parade's cancellation, though a Mardi Gras parade later in the day still took place in Orange Beach. Some of the same floats and marching groups participated in that parade, and a banner honoring the Gulf Shores band was on display.

Near the crash scene, witnesses such as Carol Ann Nix described a scary scene.

"I was thinking, 'oh my gosh this is some terrorism act,'" said Nix of Plymouth, Ind., who is staying in Fort Morgan for the winter months. "Then I saw the old guy and his expression was horror and disbelief."

"It was unbelievable that this happened," she added.

The crash occurred less than three days after 28 people were injured when a truck plowed into a crowd at a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. The driver of that incident, according to police, was highly intoxicated.

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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