A four-year-old girl died after falling under a float Saturday night at a Santa Claus parade in Yarmouth, N.S., police said.
"A very tragic incident, very traumatic for all involved in the parade and the stage," Cpl said. Dal Hutchinson, from the RCCA in Nova Scotia.
"My understanding is that there were many people in the neighborhood when this happened, so our thoughts are now with the girl's family, because it's a very difficult time, but also with the community, with people watching the parade."
The incident occurred just before 7:00. near the intersection of Main Street and Starrs Road in Yarmouth, about an hour after the Yarmouth Christmas Lights Parade began.
"She was not on the float, but ran alongside the floating boat when she fell under the float," Hutchinson said.
The police did not release the child's name.
But in the afternoon Sunday, the Tri-County Regional Education Center announced that the girl was a pre-primary student.
In an e-mail, the center said members of its crisis management team would be in school on Tuesday morning (Monday was a free day planned for students) to provide support to staff and students.
"Suddenly, I just heard screaming"
Vance Webb, a retired mechanic living on the outskirts of Yarmouth, attended the Saturday parade with his wife, stepmother and three grandchildren.
"Just watching the parade and then about 30 meters away, I heard – suddenly, the floater stops and I see something on the ground," Webb told The Canadian Press in a phone interview.
Then suddenly, I just heard screaming. It was pretty close to us.
Webb said the whole scene has come down to "chaos," because people have realized what happened.
"People 50 meters away – none of us is all right, all adults were crying." Wherever I saw, there were hundreds of people crying, "Webb said." That will affect the city.
In a subsequent interview with CBC News, Webb said that parks were parked cars on both sides of the road. He said that people stood in the street in front of cars to get a better view.
"I've never seen this at a parade," Webb said. "It reduced the visibility and created a narrow spot on the road and felt it was not right from the start."
To make the parade safer next year, Webb has suggested that volunteers go alongside floats to make sure no one gets too close. He also suggested that the parade during the hours of the day could also make it safer.
"I'm not sure if this has contributed to it, but it's a possibility," Webb said.
The parade organizers, known as the Christmas Parade of the Lights, approached the situation on a Facebook post on Sunday morning, saying they were "devastated by the traumatic accident."
"We, together with the community, weep the family" [sic] loss and pray for all those affected. The focus is on uniting as a community and helping this family in a very difficult time, "read the post.
Tonight we talked to the mayor of Yarmouth @PamMood to offer my condolences to the whole community for the tragedy of this weekend at the Santa Claus parade. As a parent, words fail at such times. Our thoughts are with the family of the young victim and everyone affected.
"A Great Tragedy"
The girl was immediately treated on site by RCMP officers and emergency health services. She was taken to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital, where she was declared dead.
Mayor Pam Mood was not at the community-led parade but said that now is a time for the community to unite.
"This is a huge tragedy, something you can never dream about," Mood told CBC News.
"So right now, the whole community is mourning [and] very concerned about the family, the first responders, whoever is involved in it. The community is just spending our time reassuring each other and making sure everyone is alright. "
Mood says that thousands of people come to watch the parade every year. She said the parade was an annual tradition in the city for about 20 years.
He says the mayors and colleagues across Nova Scotia have expanded to support the city. The prime minister also expressed the city's condolences.
Sean Mills, father and fisherman of Yarmouth, has launched a fundraising campaign to go to the funeral costs.
"It's just a tragedy, it's an accident and it's terrible. We all have children and that could have been any of our kids, we were all at the parade last night," Mill said.
Mills said he knew the money would not make the family feel better, but said he would ease the financial burden.
"I have a child around the same age and it's terrible news, it's not at all," he said.
"I think the whole community, in general, feels exactly the same way, they know it's terrible. It should be a good time of the year and a tragedy happens and comes back completely."
Hutchinson said he knew there were many people who witnessed the incident and suggested that people would like to get help, including the first responders, who will be assisted if they ask for it.
"If you're fighting what you've been witnessing, it's very important to talk about it and look for some help to solve these emotions," he said.
A pain relief specialist will be at Rodd Grand Hotel in Yarmouth at 18:30. Sunday for anyone who needs to talk about this tragedy.
A RCMP spokesman said the police are not looking at criminal charges.