Two run-away horses pulling a wagon bolted during a 4th of July parade in the Mississippi River town of Bellvue. A 60-year-old woman thrown from the wagon was killed and two dozen others were injured, four critically.
As many as 4,000 people were in Bellvue for the parade on Sunday morning. Children picking up candy in the street were among those trampled. Bellevue Mayor Virgil Murray says town is in shock.
“It was kind of like disbelief, surreal,” Murray says. “We can’t believe it happened.”
Horses have been in the town’s annual Heritage Days parade for decades. “We’re trying to keep tabs on everything,” Murray says. “And we really are concerned about the victims and their families.”
The mayor says the town will try to provide counseling services to those who need it. “Our main focus is worrying about and kind of just being concerned and making ourselves available for anybody who might need some contact,” Murray says.
The 60-year-old woman riding in the buggy was thrown out and she was taken to University Hospitals in iowa City, where she died. She and her husband live in Springbrook and were well-known in the area, as the buggy sometimes carried brides and grooms to and from their weddings.
Bellevue’s mayor told Iowa Public Radio he isn’t ready to say horses will or won’t be part of town parades in the future. “That would be very presumptive of me to say, ‘Well, it’s been less than 24 hours since we’ve had an accident and we’re taking a direction and going some way without even having gathered all of the facts,” he said.
Murray praised the nurses, doctors and emergency responders who were in the crowd watching the parade. “Those people were willing to step up and come out and help our emergency people take care of the individuals in our community and it was very heartwarming to see that,” the mayor said.
A triage center was set up, then 15 ambulances and a medical helicopter rushed victims out of Bellevue to area hospitals within an hour of the incident.
Governor Culver issued a statement, saying his “prayers are for those who were in harm’s way.” The governor also thanked “the spectators who assisted the injured and the emergency responders who quickly provided medical care.”
(This story was updated at 5:30 p.m.)