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July 6th, 2010
Happy 4th Parade Turns Horrific

What was supposed to be a carefree holiday weekend will now be remembered as a terrifying moment in this town’s history.

In BELLEVUE, Iowa a 60-year-old woman has died and 23 others were injured after two horses broke loose at a Fourth of July “Heritage Day Parade” in Bellevue and charged down the street for six blocks.

The horses took off after one rubbed its head against the other, removing that horse’s bridle, police said. The horses, with a wagon in tow, galloped for several blocks, running over children and adults who sat and stood along the streets watching the parade in Bellevue. At one point, the wagon flipped, ejecting two people in it, someone yelled to get out of the way.  A witness stated she could see two horses running at full speed and they were harnessed together.

“It was obvious they were out of control, Donna Jaster, a witness, said, and  “There was probably no way of stopping them without great risk to the person jumping in.”

Jeff Junk also watched it all happen. “They were mowing people over. Little kids were getting mowed over. They were probably going 40 miles per hour,” he said. “I’ve never seen nothing like it, and I never want to see it again.”

Five people were critically injured, five others severely injured and 14 suffered minor injuries, police and fire officials said in a statement. The victims were as young as 2 years old and suffered injuries ranging from multiple fractures to collapsed lungs and abrasions, officials said. Life-flight helicopters flew some people to local hospitals.

The parade is a decades-long tradition in the town of about 2,300 people, located 25 miles south of Dubuque on the Iowa-Illinois border.

Between 3,000 and 4,000 people attend the annual parade, many people coming in from rural areas and nearby towns, he said.

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver released a statement, saying he was thinking and praying for the victims. “I am especially saddened because the accident happened during the events celebrating Independence Day, which is a day that should be filled with pride and joy for all Iowans and Americans,” Culver said.  


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