STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) A woman suspected of driving under the influence plowed into a crowd Saturday during the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade, killing four people – including a 2-year-old boy – and injuring dozens more in a collision that sent some spectators flying through the air.
Stillwater police Capt. Kyle Gibbs said the woman’s Hyundai Elantra struck an unoccupied motorcycle of an officer who was working security at the parade, then went into the crowd. She was taken into custody, and Gibbs said investigators were awaiting the results of blood tests to determine if she was impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Oklahoma University Medical Center and The Children’s Hospital announced in a statement Saturday evening that a 2-year-old was the fourth person to die from injuries suffered in the morning crash. Five children and three adults remained hospitalized with conditions ranging from good to critical, officials said.
Gibbs confirmed later Saturday that the 2-year-old was a boy and that the other three people who died were all adults. He also said the number of people injured had grown to 44.
Police said Adacia Chambers, 25, of Stillwater, was arrested on the DUI charge.
“We treat these like we would any homicide investigation,” Gibbs said. “It’ll probably take several days to get additional information as to the cause of the accident.”
Chambers’ father, Floyd Chambers of Oologah, told The Oklahoman newspaper he couldn’t believe his daughter was involved and said she was not an alcoholic. He described his daughter as “timid” and said she had attended homecoming festivities Friday night with family but that her boyfriend had told him she was home by 10 p.m.
“This is just not who she is. They’re going to paint her into a horrible person but this is not (her),” Floyd Chambers told the paper.
A woman who answered a call to a phone number listed for Floyd Chambers told The Associated Press no one was available to talk.
Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis said there had been discussion about canceling the homecoming game Saturday afternoon against Kansas, but it was played as scheduled. The victims were remembered with a moment of silence before kickoff, and most of the OSU players knelt on the sideline in prayer.
Even as the game began, some of the bodies remained at the scene of the crash less than three blocks away from the stadium. National Guard troops kept watch as officials with the Red Cross and state medical examiner’s office continued their work.
Hundreds of fans wearing the school’s bright orange and black colors had to walk by the intersection as they headed to the game. Some lingered to look at the aftermath: water bottles, blankets, lawn chairs and other items strewn in the street. A gray car with a smashed side and shattered windshield remained at the scene, as did a crumpled motorcycle.
“I just saw smoke and saw the panic in people’s faces as they ran away from the scene,” said Geoff Haxton, of Tulsa, who attended the parade with his children.
Another spectator, Konda Walker, from Anchorage, Alaska, told the Stillwater News Press that some people initially thought the crash was part of the show.
“People were flying 30 feet into the air like rag dolls,” Walker told the News Press.
It’s not the first tragedy to strike events connected to Oklahoma State sports programs. Ten people, including two OSU men’s basketball players, were killed in a 2001 plane crash while returning from a game in Colorado. And Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna were among four killed in a plane crash in Arkansas in 2011 while on a recruiting trip.
“The families, I know, and these victims will never be able to understand this, nor will we,” Hargis said. “But the Cowboy family pulls together, unfortunately we’ve had to do it before and we’re going to do it again.”