NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A person was struck by a float and fatally injured Saturday evening during one of the iconic parades of the Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, authorities said. It was the second death in days to mar this year’s Carnival festivities.
Witnesses say the male victim was struck by a tandem float – trapped between two sections and crushed underneath.
A city agency tasked with emergency preparedness tweeted that the death occurred Saturday night as the popular parade of the Krewe of Endymion was rolling. The agency, NOLA Ready, said it had no immediate details about how the death occurred or the identity of the person.
NOLA Ready tweeted that the remainder of Endymion’s parade was being cancelled Saturday evening. Reports said 13 floats had already gone by the area where the accident occurred and that the remaining floats and marching groups diverted elsewhere. Police said the accident occurred along Canal Street, a major downtown thoroughfare in this Mississippi River port city.
New Orleans police said first responders swiftly converged on the area and the department tweeted out calls for crowds to avoid the site. The float, with its gaudy lights still twinkling, was halted with police cordoning off the area on horseback and on foot. All around, streets were lined with tossed beats, trinkets and the debris of the street party, and TV stations reported a somber mood had taken hold of members of the parade krewe upon learning of the fatality.
The fatality comes as New Orleans had already been mourning the death of a 58-year-old woman who — witnesses said — was run over by a parade float Wednesday night in the runup to Mardi Gras.
That death occurred during the parade of the Mystic Krewe of Nyx, an all-female Carnival group. Witnesses said the woman, later identified by authorities as New Orleans native Geraldine Carmouche, had apparently tried to cross between two parts of a tandem float and tripped over a hitch connecting the sections.
It wasn’t immediately clear if a tandem float was involved in Saturday night’s fatality, but the city agency NOLA Ready tweeted that tandem floats would not be allowed for the remainder of the 2020 season. Tandem floats are multiple floats connected together and pulled by one tractor.
Mardi Gras concludes with the Fat Tuesday celebration in coming days that marks the raucous climax of a week or more of parades and parties each year.
The 2020 Carnival season deaths come just a year after a car sped into a bicycle lane near a parade route, hitting nine people and killing two bicyclists not far from where the Krewe of Endymion formation had just passed. A man identified as the driver was subsequently charged with two counts of vehicular homicide.
Before this year, the most recent Carnival float-related fatality happened in 2009, when a 23-year-old rider fell from a float and in front of its wheels in Carencro, about 120 miles (195 kilometers) west of New Orleans.
In 2008, a rider getting off a three-part float after the Krewe of Endymion parade in New Orleans was killed when the float lurched forward and the third section ran over him, police said.
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