Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Canton Christmas Parade float runs over him

12-year-old boy is recovering after Canton Christmas Parade float runs over him.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Moncla Parade Death

Moncla Parade Death

By Mike Magnoli - Reporter

This weekend we reported that a Mardis Gras accident claimed the life of a teenager in Avoyelles parish.

The Moncla Mardis Gras parade has been a tradition for 22 years, but residents we spoke with tell News Channel 5 the parade has gotten more and more out of control every year.

On Saturday, 16 year old Clay Sayer was pinned between a truck and a float and he died. The victim’s brother was driving: 21 year old Kain Sayer. He was charged with vehicular homicide, careless operation of a vehicle and DWI.

State police report the older brother had been drinking.

Click the video box to hear from residents and two radio DJs who were eyewitnesses to the accident.

And the Sayer boy’s death wasn’t the only accident in Moncla this past weekend. On the same night, at the same parade, a man was thrown from a horse. Ambulances couldn’t get through the crowd to reach him, so he was airlifed to Rapides Regional Medical Center.

At the time of this posting, that victim is still in intensive care.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Mom: 'It was a nightmare'

06:45 PM CDT on Tuesday, October 9, 2007

For the first time, a Hutto mother spoke Tuesday about the tragic loss of her 12-year-old daughter in 2005 - and why she's fighting for change.

Hutto Middle School student Melissa Swain was killed two years ago this month after falling from a parade float in the city's annual festival.

Melissa Swain grew up in Austin, and her family moved to Hutto, in Williamson County, in 2003.

“She loved to write, volleyball, cheerleading, dance, singing,” said Carla Swain, Melissa’s mother.

It was during the city's annual fall festival in 2005 that Melissa Swain died.

Melissa was riding on a homemade trailer with more than two-dozen other kids.

“Once the parade ended, a lot of the students got off - then they went off to the middle school. She was sitting on the bails of hay with her legs hanging over the railing of the trailer,” said Swain.

Carla Swain said the students were removing decorations from the float - while it was still moving.

“A rope fell and Melissa reached to pick it up and she fell and grabbed a hold of the railing.

At that point and could not pull herself back up and then she was finally pulled under and run over.”

Melissa was crushed by the back wheels of the trailer.

She died instantly.

The Swain family sued the City of Hutto, the school district, the Chamber of Commerce, the driver of the pick-up truck and the school organization sponsoring her float.

The family settled with all parties.

“I needed to find out exactly what happened, and going through the depositions and finding the things that just aren't told up front. I had to know, I needed to know,” said Swain.

"This was not a situation where someone did something intentionally, it was more people acting with a lack of information or a lack of awareness," said Brian Smith, Swain’s attorney.

The settlement included monetary and non-monetary components which include implementing change.

"I'm hoping to work closely with the Chamber of Commerce and city of Hutto to establish some rules and guidelines. There were not any rules at that time from the city or the school district. The chamber had very few rules," said Swain.

The Swain family believes there should be adult supervisors on all floats.. And hand rails.

Carla Swain is still recovering from this tragedy - and another one.

The day after Melissa's funeral, Melissa's dad was in a debilitating motorcycle accident and is still in a wheelchair.

"It was was a nightmare," said Swain.

Despite her heartache, Carla Swain focuses on her family's final moments with Melissa, and she prays her daughter's story brings change.

Festival organizers aim for safety

Festival organizers aim for safety
Updated: 1/30/2008 4:36:15 PM
By: Veronica Castelo

Parade safety is a big concern.
Festivals are supposed to be fun, festive and care free.

Former Elgin City Manager Jack Harzke said he never worried about much when he used to help with the annual Western Days Festival.

"Our biggest fear was some kid getting hit by a candy being thrown off the float," Harzke said.

Today, Harzke said it's different.

"In recent times, there have been some sad accidents and some fatal accidents. People are more worried about the liability," Harzke said.

One accident on the minds of Central Texans occurred in Hutto in 2005. A settlement is now being finalized in the case of a 12-year old girl who died after falling off a float during a parade.

Gena Carter is the President of the Elgin Chamber of Commerce. She said reports of injuries at other festivals is one of many reasons organizers in Elgin are now on high alert.

"We want to make sure the participants are safe as well as
the people watching the parade," Carter said.

Carter said other festival organizers are also concerned. Some are doing away with activities that increase liability like skate boarding demonstrations and pony rides.

Some organizers are even paying up to $6,000 for insurance to avoid lawsuits, according to Bill McCrary, the chairperson of the Elgin Chamber of Commerce.

Elgin is turning to its residents for help.

"We're making sure we have enough volunteers to address those
concerns regarding setting up barricades, inspecting floats and
making sure everyone obeys the rules of the parade," McCrary said.

Carter said the city does not currently have enough volunteers.

"We just want to make it a safe event and as it grows and more people come, it's harder to address some of those issues," Carter said.

If people don't step up, Carter said the city will have to make some changes to its lineup. It may mean the 39th Annual
Western Days will be different, but Carter said it will be safe.

Western Days is scheduled for June 24 through the 28. The Chamber of Commerce will hold a meeting for anyone interested in volunteering next Tuesday. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the
Chamber office.

You can also call (512) 285-4515 for more information.