Tragedy at Ok­la­homa State

Four die and dozens are hurt dur­ing pa­rade at Ok­la­homa State

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY JUSTIN JUOZA­PAVI­CIUS

Four dead, 34 in­jured af­ter a car drives into home­com­ing crowd.

STILLWATER, OKLA. okla. — A car driven by a woman sus­pected of driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence plowed into a crowd Satur­day dur­ing Ok­la­homa State Univer­sity’s home­com­ing pa­rade, killing four peo­ple — in­clud­ing a toddler — and in­jur­ing dozens af­ter a col­li­sion that sent some spec­ta­tors fly­ing through the air.

Stillwater po­lice Capt. Kyle Gibbs said the woman’s Hyundai Elantra struck the un­oc­cu­pied mo­tor­cy­cle of an of­fi­cer who was work­ing se­cu­rity at the pa­rade, then went into the crowd. She was taken into cus­tody, and Gibbs said in­ves­ti­ga­tors were await­ing the re­sults of blood tests to de­ter­mine whether she was im­paired by drugs or al­co­hol.

OU Med­i­cal Cen­ter and the Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal said in a state­ment Satur­day night that a 2-year-old was the fourth per­son to die from in­juries suf­fered in the morn­ing crash. Five chil­dren and three adults re­mained hos­pi­tal­ized, and their con­di­tions ranged from good to crit­i­cal, of­fi­cials said.

Gibbs said ear­lier that 34 peo­ple were hos­pi­tal­ized, in­clud­ing eight who were listed in crit­i­cal con­di­tion. Po­lice said that Ada­cia Cham­bers, 25, of Stillwater, was ar­rested on the DUI charge.

“We treat th­ese like we would any homi­cide in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Gibbs said. “It will prob­a­bly take sev­eral days to get ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion as to the cause of the ac­ci­dent.” Cham­bers’s fa­ther, Floyd Cham­bers of Oolo­gah, told Ok­la­homa City’s Ok­la­homan news­pa­per that he could not be­lieve that his daugh­ter was in­volved, and he in­sisted that she was not an al­co­holic. He de­scribed his daugh­ter as “timid” and said she had at­tended home­com­ing fes­tiv­i­ties Fri­day night with fam­ily, but that her boyfriend had told him that she was home by 10 p.m. “This is just not who she is. They’re go­ing to paint her into a hor­ri­ble per­son but this is not” her, Floyd Cham­bers told the news­pa­per.

A woman who an­swered a call to a phone num­ber listed un­der Floyd Cham­bers’s name said no one was avail­able to talk.

Ok­la­homa State Univer­sity Pres­i­dent Burns Hargis said there had been dis­cus­sion about can­cel­ing the home­com­ing foot­ball game Satur­day af­ter­noon against the Univer­sity of Kansas, but the con­test was played as sched­uled. The vic­tims were re­mem­bered with a mo­ment of si­lence be­fore kick­off, and most of the Ok­la­homa State play­ers knelt in prayer on the side­line.

Even as the game be­gan, some of the bod­ies re­mained at the scene of the crash, less than three blocks from the sta­dium. Na­tional Guard troops kept watch as of­fi­cials with the Red Cross and state med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice con­tin­ued their work.

Hun­dreds of fans wear­ing Ok­la­homa State’s col­ors — orange and black — walked past the crash site as they headed to the foot­ball game. Some lin­gered to look at the af­ter­math: wa­ter bot­tles, blan­kets, lawn chairs and other items strewn around the in­ter­sec­tion. A gray car with a smashed side and shat­tered wind­shield re­mained at the scene, as did a crum­pled mo­tor­cy­cle.

Konda Walker of An­chor­age told the Stillwater News Press that some peo­ple ini­tially thought that the crash was part of the show. “Peo­ple were fly­ing 30 feet into the air like rag dolls,” Walker said.

The univer­sity posted on Twit­ter: “Ok­la­homa State Univer­sity is sad­dened by the tragic pa­rade in­ci­dent ear­lier this morn­ing. Our thoughts & prayers are with those af­fected.”

“Peo­ple were fly­ing 30 feet into the air like rag dolls.”

Konda Walker, an An­chor­age res­i­dent who at­tended the pa­rade


A po­lice mo­tor­cy­cle rests in Stillwater, Okla., af­ter a car driven by a woman sus­pected of drunken driv­ing plowed into the crowd. For a photo gallery, go to­la­homa-crash.

Ada­cia Cham­bers

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