Car drives into band at Mardi Gras parade in Gulf Shores


UPDATE (9:30 p.m.): All eight students treated at South Baldwin Regional Medical Center after the Mardi Gras tragedy in Gulf Shores have been released.

Students remain hospitalized at Sacred Heart in Pensacola and USA Medical Center in Mobile, according to Baldwin County Superintendent Eddie Tyler.

Authorities identified the driver as 73-year-old Larry Rathbun of Fairhope.  He was a part of the parade representing MOAA, the Military Officers Association of America.

UPDATE (3:05 p.m.) – According to Gulf Shores officials, the number of students in critical condition has fallen to three. Earlier in the afternoon, a total of four students were listed in critical.

During a press conference at 3 p.m., city officials said that Alabama Highway 59 will be reopening shortly.

Law enforcements officials say this incident was “an accident” and the driver had no criminal intent. They did not release the name of the driver in the crash.

Officials from the Baldwin County School System says they will have counselors on campus at Gulf Shores High School this week for students to talk with about the crash.

UPDATE (12:55 p.m.) – The Baldwin County School System confirms that 12 students from Gulf Shores were involved in the crash. Six of the students were in middle school and the other six students were in high school.

The School System issued the following statement:

We are yielding to the Gulf Shores Police Department regarding details that are available concerning this unthinkable incident. Right now our thoughts and prayers are with the Gulf Shores High School family. We greatly appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers, especially for those who have been injured and their families. I want to thank all the EMS and law enforcement professionals who responded and are still assisting families. I especially want to thank the Gulf Shores Police Department and Fire/EMS. We will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.”

UPDATE (12:20 p.m.) – News Five has obtained new information about the vehicle and driver involved in the crash. The vehicle was representing the Military Officers Association of America.

Col. Jonathan Withington at the MOAA national headquarters confirms that a vehicle representing their Baldwin County chapter was involved in the crash. The identity of the driver is still unknown.

One victim was tranported by helicopter from South Baldwin Medical Center to USA Medical Center in Mobile.

New video from the Gulf Shores Fire Department shows the band and vehicle before the crash.

UPDATE (11:50 a.m.) – The city of Gulf Shores held a press conference Tuesday morning to update the crash at the Mardi Gras parade.

According to a city spokesperson, a late model SUV driven by a 73-year-old male from Fairhope struck the Gulf Shores Marching Band at the start of the parade.

12 bandmembers were struck by the SUV and four of the victims are in critical condition.

It is unknown whether alcohol or drugs played a factor, but authorities do not expect criminal intent. The driver and the vehicle are in police custody. Charges could be filed against the driver, but at this time, police have not made that determination.

The victims range in age from 12 to 17. Nine patients were transported to South Baldwin Medical Center in Foley, two were transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola and one other victim was transported to Baptist Hospital in northwest Florida.

City officials tell News Five that the vehicle ended up on top of several students. All injuries are trauma related according to emergency officials.

The FBI did reach out to Gulf Shores officials to help in the investigation. The City turned down the offer because they do not believe the driver had criminal intent.

Alabama Highway 59 remains closed Tuesday afternoon.

The Orange Beach Parade is still scheduled to roll at 2 p.m. down Perdido Beach Blvd.

The city of Gulf Shores will hold another press conference at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) – A tragic start to the last day of Mardi Gras on the Gulf Coast. A car drove into a crowd of people before the start of the parade in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

The Gulf Shores High School marching band was in the area of the crash. A city spokesperson says there were eleven band members injured in the crash. Three of the band members are in critical condition.

“A teenage band has just started to march down the parade route when they were struck from behind. The vehicle was apart of the parade,” says Grant Brown, a spokesperson for the city of Gulf Shores.

The vehicle was a part of the Gulf Shores Parade and was behind the band in the parade route. Sources tell News Five that the driver was an elderly man.

Video of the scene shows multiple ambulances on scene with several patients of stretchers.

Portions of Highway 59 and surrounding roads are closed at this time. The Gulf Shores Parade is officially canceled and the parade route is closed at this time.

City officials are on the scene of the crash. They will hold a press conference at 11:45 a.m. CST.

This is a developing story. Stay with WRBL News 3 for updates.

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