STILLWATER, Okla. – Instead of laughter during the traditional postgame singing of the alma mater following their nationally-ranked Oklahoma State’s 58-10 homecoming game victory on Saturday, there was a postgame candlelight vigil.
Tragedy struck the Cowboy community yet again Saturday, as a 25-year-old suspected of drunk driving plowed into a crowd at the parade before the big game, killing at least four and injuring as many as 44 people.
Lawn chairs, blankets and water bottles were strewn in the street and bodies remained at the scene as OSU fans walked past the intersection where the crash sent some spectators flying through the air.
Some lingered Saturday to look at the aftermath that also included a gray car with a smashed side and shattered windshield, and a crumpled motorcycle.
Investigators were awaiting results of blood tests to determine if Adacia Chambers, a 25-year-old Stillwater resident, was impaired by drugs or alcohol. She was arrested on a DUI charge after the morning crash and remained jailed Saturday night. Stillwater police Capt. Kyle Gibbs said Chambers’ Hyundai Elantra struck an unoccupied motorcycle of an officer who was working security at the parade, then went into the crowd.
“You look at the carnage alone. (Someone) had a little baby stroller crushed up. It’s disgusting,” said Dan Whitmire, who was visiting his daughter from Dallas and had planned to attend Saturday’s homecoming game, which was held anyway, but changed his mind after the crash.
Three adults died at the scene and a 2-year-old boy died later, Gibbs said. He said 44 people were injured.
Officials with Oklahoma University Medical Center and The Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City said the 2-year-old was one of eight patients brought there, and that four children and three adults remained hospitalized with conditions ranging from good to critical.
CBS affiliate KOTV in Tulsa reports this is the third recent tragedy for the OSU sports program. In 2001, a plane crash killed 10 associated with the OSU men’s basketball team. In 2011, four people associated with the women’s basketball team perished in another airplane tragedy.
OSU President Burns Hargis, an OSU alumnus himself, said Saturday the community was heartbroken but strong.
“The Cowboy family pulls together,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had to do it before, and we’re gonna do it again.
“As we learn more about those killed and injured in what was a senseless and incomprehensible act, our hearts ache from the weight of the grief we feel,” Hargis said. “We ask everyone to lift up the families who lost their loved ones and those injured in your prayers. We are reminded once again of what is truly important in life – family and friends. The OSU family is deeply saddened.”
Chambers’ father, Floyd Chambers of Oologah, told The Oklahoman newspaper he couldn’t believe his daughter was involved and said she was not an alcoholic. He described her as “timid” and said she had attended homecoming festivities Friday night with family but that her boyfriend had told him she was home by 10 p.m.
“She’s not a bad person, she’s not an alcoholic. She doesn’t drink and she wasn’t drinking to my knowledge. She wasn’t drinking,” said Floyd Chambers,. “She’s a good person. This is just a tragic thing that happened. I don’t know why it happened.”
He also said to his knowledge, his daughter hadn’t been taking prescription pills.
Witnesses described a surreal scene of terror when the crash happened.
“I just saw smoke and saw the panic in people’s faces as they ran away from the scene,” said Geoff Haxton, of Tulsa, who attended the parade with his children.
Another spectator, Konda Walker, from Anchorage, Alaska, told the Stillwater News Press that some people initially thought the crash was part of the show.
“People were flying 30 feet into the air like rag dolls,” Walker said.
Gibbs said it could take several days to get more information about the cause of the accident. “We treat these like we would any homicide investigation,” he said.
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