Police in Raleigh, North Carolina, have confirmed that a young girl was killed after being struck by a runaway truck during a Christmas parade on Saturday morning.
Videos posted on Twitter taken from the Raleigh Christmas Parade showed at least six people, including two police officers, using their bodies to try to stop an out-of-control pickup truck.
The parade claims an audience of over 80,000 people, and various local businesses and organizations are represented in the procession. The dance studio CC & Co. Dance Complex, which boasts alumni like Ariana DeBose, has been a participant in years before, putting on performances for the parade. The child killed was one of the dancers.
“We are still in shock as we write these words to you,” the dance studio wrote on its Facebook page. “This morning’s events have devastated us. We also know many of our young ones witnessed this tragedy and that is hard to fathom as well.”
Videos show the troupe of dancers, wearing lime green shirts, running out of the way as a white pickup truck, hauling a green and yellow float, began to suddenly gain speed and honk its horn. The street was on a decline, bystanders said, which accelerated its movement.
“[The driver] just couldn't stop. He was laying on the horn, but the girls just couldn't hear it because of the music and dancing, and so adults were trying to get kids out of the way as fast as possible,” Christine Barnes, who was watching the parade, told WRAL. “It was really traumatizing.”
Parade watchers who saw the crash unfold told local reporters that they thought it might have been part of the event at first. “The girls kept dancing, and then very quickly parted as the truck moved through them,” one witness told reporters at the scene. “There were more dancers beyond this group … and then there was quite a bit more chaos. Everyone started to look confused.”
ABC News reported that some attendees heard the driver yelling out of the window that they had lost control of the vehicle and could not stop it.
The victim’s name has not been released, but she was identified as a child. She died in the hospital from her injuries. No other dancers or bystanders were injured, but Barnes said that many people only narrowly avoided being hit by the vehicle.
"The truck wasn't going that fast, but because the girls had no idea it was coming — they just couldn't get out of the way," Barnes said.
Shortly after the incident, the rest of the parade was canceled, and parts of the streets closed down as police opened an investigation. The driver was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, reckless driving, improper equipment, unsafe movement, and carrying a firearm in a parade.
Police said on Saturday, “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.”
The Raleigh Police Department did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin tweeted, “Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of the young girl who lost her life today at the Raleigh Christmas Parade. Our prayers are with her family, friends and the dancers from CC & Co. The community is here for you as we try to understand and process this shared tragedy.”