YARMOUTH, N.S. — A four-year-old girl is dead after a tragic accident at a Santa Claus parade in Yarmouth, N.S., police said Saturday, as a witness described a scene of terror that shattered the small port town’s holiday celebration.
The girl, who has not been publicly identified, was running along a passing parade float on one of the town’s main thoroughfares when she fell underneath it just before 7 p.m. local time, police said.
She was rushed to a local hospital by paramedics but was pronounced dead a short time later.
Cpl. Dal Hutchinson, a public information officer with the Nova Scotia RCMP, described the event as “very, very tragic — and also very traumatic for everyone there.
“My understanding is there was a large group of people there — families — watching the Santa Claus parade when this incident took place,” Hutchinson said in an interview Saturday night.
He added that anyone who may have witnessed the incident should talk about it with others and seek support to deal with the trauma.
“Our thoughts are with this little girl’s family during this very, very difficult time.”
Vance Webb, a retired machinist who lives on the outskirts of Yarmouth, attended Saturday’s parade with his wife, stepson and three grandchildren.
“We were just watching the parade, and then about 30 feet away, I hear — all of a sudden, the float stops, and I kinda see something on the ground,” Webb said in a phone interview.
“Then all of a sudden, we just heard screaming. It was pretty close to us.”
Webb said the entire scene descended into “mayhem” as people realized what had happened.
“People within 50 feet of it — none of us are OK. All the adults were crying. Everywhere I saw, there were hundreds of people crying,” said Webb.
“This is really gonna affect the town.”
Parade organizers did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday night.