NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A person was struck and killed by a Mardi Gras float during a raucous Saturday night street parade in New Orleans, the second person in days killed along a parade route in this year’s Carnival season, authorities said.
A city agency tasked with emergency preparedness tweeted that the person was fatally injured Saturday night as the popular Krewe of Endymion was rolling. The agency’s online platform, NOLA Ready, tweetetd it had no immediate details exactly how the death occurred or the person’s identity.
NOLA Ready said the remainder of Endymion’s parade was scrapped Saturday evening. Reports said 13 floats had already gone ahead when the accident occurred with the 14th float in the formation. Remaining floats that followed, along with marching groups, diverted elsewhere from the accident scene on Canal Street, a wide route in this Mississippi River port city popular with parade viewers.
New Orleans police said first responders swiftly converged on the site, tweeting out calls for crowds to avoid the area.
The float, with its gaudy lights still twinkling, was cordoned off by police on horseback and on foot. All around, streets were strewn with tossed bead necklaces and trinkets thrown from the floats, along with other party debris. TV stations reported a somber mood had taken hold of members of the parade group upon learning of the fatality.
The fatality came as New Orleans was still mourning the death of a 58-year-old woman who — witnesses said — was run over by a parade float Wednesday night in the run-up to the Fat Tuesday finale.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Saturday night that the south Louisiana city was grieving.
“To be confronted with such tragedy a second time at the height of our Carnival celebrations seems an unimaginable burden to bear. The City and the people of New Orleans will come together, we will grieve together, and we will persevere together,” Cantrell said in a statement. “Our hearts break for those lost and for their loved ones, and our prayers and deepest sympathies are with them.”
Wednesday’s fatality had occurred during the parade of the Mystic Krewe of Nyx, an all-female Carnival group. Witnesses said the woman, 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 few days remaining in the 2020 festival season. Tandem floats are multiple floats connected together and pulled by one tractor.
The Carnival season is nearing its traditional all-out Fat Tuesday celebration, the raucous climax of a week or more of parades, merrymaking and partying.
The deaths also 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.