3 students still hospitalized after Mardi Gras parade crash

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 1, 2017 at 11:08 a.m.

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GULF SHORES, Ala. (AP) — Three middle school students remain hospitalized Wednesday after a sport-utility vehicle plowed into a marching band during a Mardi Gras parade on the Alabama coast.

Grant Brown, a spokesman for the city of Gulf Shores, said that while the three were still being treated, nine other band members had been released from hospitals since the crash, which forced the cancellation of the city's annual Fat Tuesday celebration.

The young musicians were injured Tuesday when an SUV driven by a 73-year-old man in the parade suddenly accelerated and struck members of the Gulf Shores High School band from behind.

The driver is cooperating, police said, and there was no indication of drugs or alcohol. The crash appeared to be accidental, and no charges were filed immediately, police said.

The SUV was decorated with a banner from an area chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, whose spokesman said the group is praying for the injured.

Senior band member Jeremy Koonce told WALA-TV (http://bit.ly/2mHqNks ) he was pushed out of the way when the SUV struck the band's woodwind section.

"I saw a couple people get rolled under the truck, and I saw people roll out from underneath it, and they were clutching themselves, and they were in pain, but I wasn't able to run and help anybody," said Koonce. "I witnessed people just getting hit, and it was so fast, and I just started sobbing."

Cindy Diehl, mother of injured band member Hannah Diehl, 15, described a frantic scene.

"I looked back, and I saw band students on the ground, and when I saw that, I knew something happened, so I ran back, and it was just chaotic."

Diehl said her daughter, who plays the flute, was unable to bear weight on her legs.

"All Hannah wants to see is her friends from marching band," her mother said. "She wants to know how everybody's doing, just really worried about her friends."

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