Today was the Trail Days Hiker Parade. It’s a fantastic idea: all the hikers walk in the parade with their class (yeah 2013!) and the townspeople shoot them with water guns and hoses. There used to be water balloons but they were banned this year, although some locals still had them. A lot of hikers had water guns to shoot back too. I had bought some tiny ones at the dollar store but left them in my tent without thinking.
Everyone lined up at Sundog Outfitters to get ready and we started moving down the road. I started in the back of the parade and slowly moved up towards the front, seeing people I knew all throughout the line. We had turned the corner and crossed the bridge on the main street and were having a blast when suddenly a police car came roaring back through the parade. We let it pass and kept going. Then an ambulance came back the wrong direction too. I thought there must be an actual emergency somewhere, but the parade was still moving along and having the water fight. Someone must have looked back because we realized that the police car and ambulance hadn’t gone far and were right in the middle of the parade still.
Everyone kind of stopped at that point but we all thought maybe someone had had a heart attack or something. Not that that would be minor but when word came up the road what had happened, we were shocked. An older man in a Cadillac had somehow gotten onto the road, although I have no idea how since it looked like all the side streets were blocked off. He apparently had some sort of medical problem and couldn’t stop his car so he ran into several hikers, with one girl ending up under his car. A bunch of hikers immediately stepped in and lifted the car to pull her out. We heard that maybe half a dozen were hit, with one or two more seriously injured.
The parade was obviously over at this point but none of us knew what to do. We all wanted news of who had been injured. I started trying to contact some people that had been behind us but hikers rarely carry their phones. Soon more ambulances came and helicopters started flying in to take the more seriously injured victims out. I saw at least three or four. We finally heard who had been under the car and it’s a girl I hiked with in the Smokies. We haven’t heard names of any of the other victims yet and have just been wandering around trying to see who we could find. Everything is hearsay at this point but all the details being shared have been pretty consistent.
Please keep the victims in your thoughts.