Homecoming turned heartbreaking at Oklahoma State University on Saturday morning when a suspected drunk driver plowed into a parade crowd, killing four people, including a 2-year-old.
The car slammed into a motorcycle and another car before careening into the spectators. Hours later, five children and three adults remained hospitalized in conditions ranging from good to critical.
“We heard somebody scream, ‘Look out!’ [The car] plowed through a police motorcycle, and then a crowd of people,” said Dave Kapple of Houston, who was about 10 feet from the crash. “People were flying everywhere.”
“At first we thought it was part of the show,” Konda Walker, an OSU alum, told Stillwater News. “People were flying 30 feet into the air like rag dolls.”
Adacia Chambers, 24, was arrested and charged with DUI. A witness told local station KWTV that “music . . . at full volume” was blaring from the deadly crash car.
Chambers lists Oologah as her hometown on Facebook. Oologah is about 100 miles east of Stillwater.
Her dad, Floyd Chambers, told the Oklahoman newspaper that his “timid’’ daughter was not an alcoholic.
Stillwater police captain Kyle Gibbs said, “I’ve been here 29 years, and I can’t recall an incident of this magnitude.”
University officials decided despite the tragedy that OSU’s football game against Kansas would go ahead as scheduled as a tribute to those killed and injured.
“We are shocked and heartbroken by this horrible tragedy,” said college President Burns Hargis in a statement.
“The Oklahoma State University homecoming parade is the most wholesome of events, and to have it marred in such a way is incomprehensible,” he said.
The flag at the football field flew at half staff, and fans in the crowd observed a moment of silence before the game began.
After the players ran onto the field before the game, they got down onto bended knee in prayer. Mourners posted orange ribbon tributes on social media under the #StillwaterStrong hashtag.
“Today we are all Cowboys,” reads one image, referring to the school’s team moniker.