At least 50 people were injured at the Trail Days Festival in Damascus, Va., when a driver described by witnesses as an elderly man drove his car into a group of 1,000 hikers marching in the annual Hikers’ Parade. Witnesses said the car had a handicapped parking sticker and it went more than 100 feet before coming to a stop.
Three of the victims were flown by helicopters to regional hospitals. Another 12 to 15 were taken by ambulance. The rest were treated at the scene. No fatalities have been reported yet.
At a news conference, Damascus Police Chief Bill Nunley didn’t release the driver’s name or age but said he was participating in the parade. Multiple witnesses described him as an elderly man.
Nunley said the man’s 1997 Cadillac was one of the last vehicles in the parade and the driver might have suffered an unspecified medical problem when his car accelerated to about 25 mph and struck the crowd on a two-lane bridge along the town’s main road. The driver was among those taken to hospitals.
There were ambulances in the parade ahead of the hikers and paramedics on board immediately responded to the crash.
The quick action by police, firefighters, paramedics—and hikers—may have saved lives. A Damascus volunteer firefighter dove into the car to turn off the ignition, and several hikers lifted the car off the ground to free injured people trapped beneath it.
A donation fund is being set up to assist the injured, some of whom don’t have medical insurance.