Girl dies after being hit by pickup truck as Raleigh Christmas Parade ends tragically

RALEIGH, NC — The Raleigh Christmas Parade was canceled Saturday morning after a tragic event led to the death of a girl.

Around 10:25 a.m., the parade was paused as police and medical personnel responded to the intersection of Hillsborough Street and Boylan Avenue.

An out-of-control pickup truck hit a girl performing with the CC & Company Dance Complex, a group that has performed in the parade in the past.

The girl was taken to hospital, where she died from her injuries. The girl’s name was not released.

Paradegoers react after a young girl was hit by a pickup truck at the Raleigh Christmas Parade.  (Billy Liggett photo)

Other girls from the dance company could be seen crying, being hugged by family members.

“We are still in shock as we write these words to you. The events of this morning have devastated us. We also know that many other young people witnessed this tragedy and it is also difficult to fathom,” the dance company said in a statement on Saturday . “We never expected to experience a day like today, and the only thing that got us through is the tremendous love and support we’ve seen expressed among our CC & Co. Dance family.”

A photo of the CC & Company Dance Complex before performing in the Raleigh Christmas Parade.
Video taken from the scene shows the truck as it began to lose control and gain speed while honking. Some people spread out of the way, while others ran towards the truck and tried to stop it from running into the parade protets in front of it.

Raleigh police said the operator of the vehicle was interviewed, cooperated with detectives and was charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, careless and reckless, improper equipment, unsafe movement and carrying a firearm in a parade.

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Witnesses share harrowing details of parade fatality

A woman who witnessed the incident spoke to WRAL and described the chaotic scene:

“The girls kept dancing and then they separated very quickly as the truck moved through them. There were more dancers in addition to this group. We were all, I think, wondering if it was part of the parade. Maybe [the truck] picked up a bit and it kept pushing and then there was quite a bit more chaos. Everyone started to look confused. I don’t know, maybe the fire truck and other first responders helped stop the truck. I’m not aware if anyone was hit on the ground or not.”

Witnesses told WRAL News that the driver of the white pickup truck pulling the CC & Co. Dance the float, shouted that he had lost his brakes and could not stop. The truck then rammed into the dancers as adults pushed them out of the way.

“All of a sudden we looked up and saw a truck on the other side of the road coming towards us,” said Worth Creech, an eyewitness. “They were able to get most of the girls out of the way. Unfortunately, we saw one of the girls get run over.”

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Another bystander told WRAL she saw the girl on the ground with a blanket covering her.

Christine Barnes, who watched the scene unfold, said, “[The driver] just couldn’t stop. He was on the horn, but the girls just couldn’t hear it because of the music and the dancing, so the adults tried to get the kids out of the way as quickly as possible.”

“The girls were just hysterical,” Barnes said. “It was really traumatizing.”

Medics and police officers respond to a girl who is hit by a truck at the Raleigh Christmas Parade.  (Submitted Image)

She said the truck came within inches of hitting several other girls in the dance performance.

“The truck wasn’t going that fast, but because the girls had no idea it was coming – they just couldn’t get out of the way. They were at the mercy of someone else moving them out of the way,” she said.

She said the truck was in decline, apparently pushed downhill by the weight of the float behind it.

Some heroic people took action, including Raleigh police and first responders who sprinted after the truck to try to stop it.

Creech and his 12-year-old son ran with others to try to stop the truck, then he ran back to the victim.

Raleigh parade damage

“She was just laying there. People were trying to help her,” Creech said. “There was a lot of blood, unfortunately. Everyone was crying.”

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Weeping parents rushed to the scene from the parade route looking for their children.

WRAL spoke with Marilee Johnson and her daughter Megan shortly after they reunited.

“I was upset and so I was just trying to find out where she was,” Johnson said.

Her daughter added: “We didn’t know what the truck was doing and we didn’t know if we were going to move or anything.”

State, local officials respond to tragic parade crash

Dancers shocked after girl hit by runaway truck in Raleigh Christmas Parade

It marked a traumatic end to the 78th annual Raleigh Christmas Parade. The parade lasted for about an hour before the accident. Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson had no comment on the case at 11 a.m

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said: “Today started with such joy. The parade route was lined with smiling children and it made my heart so happy to see. Now we are all devastated by the news of this tragic accident and are praying for the victim and her family. It’s heartbreaking.”

Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted in the hours after the crash: “In a joyous season on what should be a joyous day, we instead mourn this family and their friends while keeping them in our prayers.”

Part of Hillsborough Street was closed while police investigated.


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