Iowa town in shock after parade death
BELLEVUE, Iowa — Looking back, a brief pause in the annual Heritage Days parade Sunday was the closest people would get to a warning that anything had gone wrong. The parade, one of scores nationwide but this small city’s most significant celebration of the year, had been under way for 45 minutes when the floats stopped coming. Then a blur of black hurtled by.
“That thing came down past here like a bat out of hell,” Merle Kilburg, 71, said, describing what he realized was an old-fashioned carriage being dragged by two black horses as fast as 30 mph down a parade route lined with children. Inside the carriage, he said, he saw a woman, alone.
“What I saw on her face,” Kilburg said, “was the most terrified look I have ever seen.”
That woman, Janet Steines, 60, whose family had for many years brought their horses and carriage to appear in this parade, died after being thrown from the vehicle. Two dozen others, at least 15 of them younger than 12, were injured as they sat on the curb grabbing for tossed candy.
The episode left Bellevue — a city of 2,350 nestled against the Mississippi River — in a numb state of disbelief. Despite the grim mood Monday, no one was proposing an end to Heritage Days. Farms created this place, people noted.
“Maybe we will not have the horses anymore,” resident Tammy Muller said. “But they are animals, and they get jittery. We’ll have the parade.”