Truck hits marching band in Mardi Gras Parade


Rebecca Rakowitz

A Mardi Gras parade in Gulf Shores turned from celebration to chaos on Tuesday after a Ford Expedition plowed into a marching band.

Twelve students from ages 12 to 17 were injured in the accident. Of those, three were in critical condition but were stable as of Wednesday.

Grant Brown, a Gulf Shores city spokesman, said Larry Rathbun, 73, was driving the SUV representing the Military Officers Association of America. The car, which was immediately behind the band, accelerated before it hit the Gulf Shores High School group.

“Every indication is that it was a tragic accident,” Police Chief Ed Delmore said.

Authorities do not believe the crash was intentional, or that drugs or alcohol involved.

Crisis counselors have been made available at Gulf Shores High School for students and parents involved in and who witnessed the accident.

“It’s going to be a very difficult day,” Angie Swiger, a member of the Baldwin County Board of Education told CNN. “It is a tight-knit community. We just ask for everyone’s thoughts and prayers.”

A GoFundMe page was created by a parent of a band member following the accident. As of Wednesday afternoon, close to $15,000 had been raised.