Four-year-old girl dies after being run over by Santa Claus float at traditional Christmas parade
Organizers of the parade spoke about the tragic incident in a Facebook post on November 25 morning and said that they were 'devastated by the traumatic accident'
The authorities have said that a four-year-old child died after she fell under a float on November 24 night at the annual Yarmouth Christmas Parade of Lights in Nova Scotia, Canada. Nova Scotia RCMP Cpl. Dal Hutchinson said: "A very tragic incident, very traumatic for everyone who was involved with the parade and at the scene. My understanding is there were a lot of people nearby when this took place. So our thoughts right now are with this little girl's family, as it's a very difficult time, but also with the community, with people that were there watching the parade."
CBC News reported that the incident took place shortly before 7 pm close to the intersection of Main Street and Starrs Road in Yarmouth. This was almost an hour after the parade began in the area. Hutchinson told the news outlet: "She was not on the float. She was running alongside the moving float when she fell underneath the float."
A makeshift memorial at the scene of Saturday’s tragic accident on Main Street that claimed the life of 4-year-old MaCali Cormier.— Y95 - CJLS (@CJLSRadio) November 26, 2018
A vigil in her memory will be held this evening at 7 o’clock at Frost Park. pic.twitter.com/CwFej8eM00
The police had initially not announced the child's name and the Tri-County Regional Centre for Education made an announcement on November 25 afternoon that the girl was a pre-primary student. The centre sent an email out saying that members from its crisis management team would be at school on November 27 morning to provide support for staff and students after the tragic death. Monday was declared as a day off for students.
Vance Webb, who is a retired machinist living on the outskirts of Yarmouth, went for the parade with his wife, stepson, and three grandchildren. He told The Canadian Press in a telephonic interview: "We were just watching the parade, and then about 30 feet away, I hear — all of a sudden, the float stops, and I kinda see something on the ground. Then all of a sudden, we just heard screaming. It was pretty close to us."
Webb also said that the entire incident spiraled into "mayhem" as people started realizing what happened. He said: "People within 50 feet of it — none of us are OK. All the adults were crying. Everywhere I saw, there were hundreds of people crying. This is really gonna affect the town."
In an interview that he had with CBC News later, Webb said that there were cars parked on both sides of the road when the parade began. He also said that people were standing in front of the parked cars so that they could see the parade better. He said: "I never saw that before at a parade. It just reduced the visibility and created a narrow point on the road and we felt that was not right, right from the start."
To ensure that the parade is much safer next year, Webb suggested that the organizer have volunteers walking alongside the floats to look out for people who get close. He also suggested that having the parade during the daytime could make it a lot safer. He said: "I'm not sure if that contributed to it, but that's a possibility."
Organizers of the parade spoke about the tragic incident in a Facebook post on November 25 morning and said that they were "devastated by the traumatic accident". The post read: "We, along with the community, mourn the familys' [sic] loss and are praying for everyone affected. The focus is on coming together as a community and helping this family through a very difficult time."
The girl was reportedly treated at the scene soon after the accident by RCMP officers and Emergency Health Services. She was then taken to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Pam Mood, the Mayor, was not at the community-run parade but said that now was the time for the community to come together.
She told CBC News: "This is a huge tragedy, something you could never even dream of. So right now, this entire community is mourning [and] very concerned for the family, the first responders, anybody involved in that. The community is just spending our time comforting each other and making sure everybody is OK." Mood also said that thousands of people come from all over to watch the parade every year. She also said that the parade had been an annual tradition in the small town for almost 20 years now.
Tonight I spoke with Yarmouth mayor @PamMood to offer my condolences to the entire community for this weekend’s tragedy at the town’s Santa Claus parade. As a parent, words fail at times like this. Our thoughts are with the family of the young victim, and with everyone affected.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 26, 2018
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also tweeted his support and condolences to the town. Hutchinson said that he knew there were many who were at the parade who witnessed the incident. He suggested that anyone who witnessed the events can reach out for help, including first responders to the scene. He said: "If you're struggling with what you witnessed, it's very important to talk about it and seek some help to deal with those emotions."
A vigil was held for MaCali in the town which was attended by scores of people on November 26 night. Her funeral service is set to take place on November 29 at the Yarmouth Wesleyan Church. Her parents, Matthew Cormier and Jocelyn LeBlanc, were also present at the vigil. A spokesperson for the RCMP said that the authorities were not looking to press criminal charges.