What was supposed to be a festive night of fun and cheer in Bakersfield, California turned into a nightmare Thursday night when the driver of a white Ford F-150 crashed into the crowd waiting for the city’s annual Christmas parade to begin, running over three people. The victims were taken to the hospital for their injuries and are reportedly in stable condition, although the extent of their injuries is currently unknown, Bakersfield Now reports.
According to witnesses, the 72-year-old driver was angry that the road was closed for the parade and drove his truck in reverse through an alley, first hitting a food cart and then driving into the crowd. After hitting a wall, the driver reportedly got out and attempted to fight the police officers responding to the crash. Police were able to arrive quickly at the scene because a large group of them were already in the area preparing for the Christmas parade that was originally scheduled to begin about 30 minutes later.
Officers arrested the driver, who was suspected of being drunk at the time, although whether or not he had been drinking has yet to be confirmed. As emergency crews responded to the scene and began treating the victims, organizers reportedly initially announced that the parade would be canceled. Ultimately, though, the start time was only delayed until it could be rerouted to avoid the area.
As seen in the comments on Vice Mayor Andrae Gonzales’s Instagram post regarding the incident, the decision to continue the parade proved to be controversial, as several commenters complained that doing so was disrespectful to the families who witnessed the crash and insensitive to the victims.
Sadly, incidents like this are far too common in the U.S., the only developed country in the world where roads continue to get more dangerous. Unfortunately for all of us, changing the culture of drivers who expect that everything and everyone should prioritize cars getting anywhere they want to go as fast as possible is an incredibly difficult task. It can be done, but it’s still going to take a lot of time, effort and money, as well as an actual commitment from politicians to pass laws that will make our roads safer.