UPDATE: OSU homecoming parade crash: Death of 2-year-old brings toll to four

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Editor's Note: Our Thoughts & Prayers are with everyone at OSU, Stillwater and our friends & family in Oklahoma at this difficult time.

UPDATE: OSU homecoming parade crash: Death of 2-year-old brings toll to four; woman from Oologah-Talala area in custody on DUI complaint 
By PAIGHTEN HARKINS AND ANDREA EGER World Staff Writers

At 5:45 p.m., OU Medical Center announced that a 2-year-old among its eight patients from the parade had died at The Children's Hospital as a result of injuries sustained during the crash. 

Bystanders help the injured after a vehicle crashed into a crowd of spectators during the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade, causing multiple injuries, on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 in Stillwater, Oka. (David Bitton/The News Press via AP)

 

Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2015 3:30 pm

By PAIGHTEN HARKINS AND ANDREA EGER World Staff Writers | 45 comments

STILLWATER — Four people are dead and more than 40 others are injured after a car crashed into spectators near the end of Oklahoma State University's homecoming parade Saturday.

Of the 34 people identified as injured by Stillwater police, eight had critical injuries and were flown from the scene, nine others sustained serious injuries and an additional 17 had less serious injuries, according to a news release posted on Stillwater Police Department's Facebook page.

Stillwater Medical Center has treated 40 people, ages 2 to 65, related to the homecoming parade crash, said Steven Taylor, vice president for support services at the hospital.

OU Medical Center received eight patients, five children and three adults, from the crash. Patient conditions range from good to critical, according to a release from the hospital.

At 5:45 p.m., OU Medical Center announced that a 2-year-old among its eight patients from the parade had died at The Children's Hospital as a result of injuries sustained during the crash.

Stillwater resident Adacia Avery Chambers, 25, was arrested on a complaint of driving under the influence in connection with the crash, which occurred around 10:31 a.m., Stillwater police Capt. Kyle Gibbs said at a press conference.

Talala resident Floyd Chambers, father of the suspect, said he learned about his daughter’s reported involvement as he followed news of the crash on television.

Asked whether his daughter had any ongoing issues, including problems with alcohol, he told the Tulsa World, "Not that I’m aware of."

"It is devastating, but I don’t know what to say or who to say it to. I don’t know how this happened. I don’t know nothing. I don’t have any answers for anybody," Chambers said.

Chambers said his adult daughter last lived in his house six to eight months ago and then moved to Stillwater for "a boy."

He said he had been fielding media calls for hours, but when he contacted law enforcement authorities in Stillwater to try to get in contact with his daughter, "They won’t let me talk to her."

A 2014 Hyundai Elantra was traveling south on North Main Street when it collided into parade attendees near the intersection of East Hall of Fame Avenue and North Main Street, after first striking an unmanned police motorcycle, Gibbs said.

The intersection is near the end of the parade route where a large crowd of people were watching.

A nine-second video that surfaced on Twitter Saturday afternoon shows a car slamming into the crowd at the curb as people scream and the parade makes a right hand turn.

Geoff Haxton, who said he was about 100 yards away from the crash, said a 4-door vehicle not affiliated with the parade crashed into the crowd. Other witnesses told him the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed.

"This is the worst thing I've ever seen in my life, outside of the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11. It's a complete horror," Haxton said.

A 7-year-old Skiatook girl and the parent of an Oologah High School band member were among those badly injured.

Todd Thomason, also of Skiatook, said his granddaughter Madison Atwell, a second-grader from the Tulsa suburb, had gone to Stillwater with one of her grandmothers to attend the parade and first OSU football game with the girl's aunt, who is an OSU student.

“My son-in-law called us this morning and told us he was on his way,” said Thomason. “She had to get stitches for a head injury, but there is no signs of brain trauma. She has five broken ribs and she is conscious and stable and talking.”

Thomason said the girl’s aunt, who he estimated is around 20 years-old, was undergoing surgery for a knee-injury she sustained, and Madison’s grandmother, from another side of the family, had at least one broken rib.

He said the family has heard reports that another parade-goer may have taken action to spare Madison more serious harm, but he said, “That’s pure hearsay at this moment. There was speculation as to another woman that was there that maybe kind of got Madison a little further out of harm’s way. We don’t know how true that was or what her condition is.”

Jon Matthews, band director at Oologah-Talala Public Schools, posted photos of the high school's Stallion Battalion band at the parade at about 9 a.m. on Facebook.

At 2 p.m., he wrote on the social media site, "Terrible accident in Stillwater today. All my band students are safe, but one parent was badly hurt. Prayers are appreciated."

Max Tanner, superintendent at Oologah-Talala Public Schools, told the Tulsa World he was at the parade but about six blocks away from where the crash occurred.

“All I can confirm is that we had a parent injured,” Tanner said. “The OSU band was first and ours was second, so our band was close to the front of the parade. This happened near the end of the parade. It was such a tragedy what occurred today and our thoughts go out to everyone involved.”

Police said it would take several days for additional information to be released. Anyone who witnessed the crash or took photos or videos at the scene can send information to Stillwater police, Gibbs said.

In a press statement, OSU President Burns Hargis said, "Oklahoma State University is devastated by today's tragedy and extends its thoughts and prayers to the families of those who perished or were injured.

"We are shocked and heartbroken by this horrible tragedy. The OSU Homecoming parade is the most wholesome of events and to have it marred in such a way is incomprehensible. We appreciate the rapid response and work of all emergency personnel. The OSU family will remember those affected by this tragedy."

Earlier in the day, Hargis said university officials had discussed whether OSU should play its homecoming game against KU. Officials decided to go ahead.

"We're going to play, and we're going to remember the victims at the game. We're going to move forward," Hargis said.

The game kicked off at 2:30 p.m. with a moment of silence. Flags at Boone Pickens Stadium were flying at half-mast.

Gov. Mary Fallin expressed her condolences for the crash victims, later tweeting she was headed to Stillwater.


Fallin, who spoke with media in the press box just before the game kicked off, said Oklahomans should stand with Stillwater and show solidarity during the tragedy.

"It is important for Oklahomans to support each other when our hearts are broken," Fallin said.

Fallin was scheduled to attend the homecoming game, but heard about the crash before leaving Oklahoman City.

Family members seeking information on possible victims of the crash can contact Stillwater Police at 405-372-4171.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Sports Columnist John Klein contributed to this report.

Paighten Harkins 918-581-8455

paighten.harkins@tulsaworld.com

Andrea Eger 918-581-8470

andrea.eger@tulsaworld.com