Children and infants made up almost a quarter of those injured when a car crashed into crowds at the Oklahoma State University parade Saturday, killing four people including a 2-year-old, Stillwater police said.
The car’s driver has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Three adults were pronounced dead at the scene, while the fourth victim, the young boy, died from his injuries at OU Medical Center Children’s Hospital, according to a Stillwater Police Department statement.
Police named the adult victims Sunday as 23-year-old Nakita Prabhakar of Edmond and 65-year-old Stillwater residents Bonnie Jean Stone and Marvin Lyle Stone.
Of a further 47 people treated after the crash, 17 remained hospitalized and five were in a critical condition, police said.
‘I flew over some strollers’
Eleven of those treated for injuries were aged 13 and below including a 1-year-old, 3-year-old and four 6-year-olds, Stillwater police said.
Student Kailey Carter told CNN affiliate KJRH she was among those struck and described being thrown over baby strollers at the scene.
“I just saw something black coming at us. I didn’t know what it was at first, so I just got up and ran,” Carter said. “The car hit me as it was stopping, and then I flew over some strollers.”
“My roommate was like ‘do not look, do not look’ because they were putting bags over people, and she was like ‘you don’t want to look there.’ It was just really scary,” said Carter.
Madison Atwell, 7, broke five ribs and bruised a lung in the crash, her family told KJRH.
Her aunt, Julie Franklin, was not at the parade but said the young girl had a guardian angel, with a woman at the scene pushing her out of the way as the car drove into the crowd.
That guardian angel was one of the four fatalities, Franklin said.
“All you can do is just hope and pray and send your good thoughts and good vibes. It’s an impossible situation but it’s made this kind of sense of community and it’s nice to see how Oklahoma comes together for things like this,” she told KJRH.
Madison’s mother Tasha said on Facebook that her daughter had gone to the parade with her grandmother and aunt “to experience homecoming cowboy style.”
Instead of seeing her first OSU football game, Madison had her first helicopter ride to hospital, her mother said.
Madison’s grandmother Debbie Atwell suffered a broken rib in the crash while another aunt, Kayleigh Atwell was receiving knee surgery, KJRH reported Saturday.
The president of the University of Central Oklahoma said one of the people killed was Nikita Nakal, an MBA student from Mumbai, India. Police named a victim as Nakita Prabhakar.
“While our thoughts and prayers are with the Oklahoma State University community tonight following the tragic events during OSU’s homecoming parade this morning, it is with deep sadness that I ask you to extend those sentiments to the family and friends of one of our own students,” wrote President Don Betz. “Our students come to Central with their unique goals, hopes and dreams, and Nikita was undoubtedly no different.”
Stillwater Police said Sunday that the car’s driver, Adacia Avery Chambers of Stillwater, had been charged with driving under the influence ad remained in the city jail.
Chambers would likely appear in court Monday, and additional charges would be presented to the Payne County District Attorney’s office, police said in a statement.
Chambers allegedly drove her 2014 Hyundai Elantra into an unmanned police motorcycle before careening into the crowd of spectators.
The deadly crash occurred at 10:31 a.m. local time (11:31 a.m. ET), just hours before the school’s centerpiece homecoming event — a football game between the nationally ranked, undefeated OSU Cowboys and the University of Kansas — and only two blocks from the soon-to-be jam packed 50,000-person Boone Pickens Stadium.
‘People flying in the air’
The festive scene turned into one of horror, one the university president called a “horrible tragedy.”
“We are shocked and heartbroken by this horrible tragedy,” said President V. Burns Hargis. “The Oklahoma State University Homecoming parade is the most wholesome of events and to have it marred in such a way is incomprehensible.”
“I can’t describe it any more clearly than this: People flying in the air,” OSU graduate student Paul Sims said of the moment of impact.
Another witness, Geoff Haxton, said he was about 100 yards from the crash site.
“All there was was smoke and panic. Half the emergency personnel in the county were here,” Haxton said. “People were running. (My) first instinct was to get my kids away from the street.”
Game goes on
After careful deliberation, officials decided to let the football game proceed, Hargis said.
Before the game, the OSU football team knelt in solemn prayer at the 25-yard line.
Fox Sports sportscaster Tim Brando described the pregame atmosphere as “the kind of somber feeling” that he’d never had before.