- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

GULF SHORES, Ala. (AP) - Revelry turned to horror on the Alabama coast Tuesday when an SUV driven by a 73-year-old man slammed into a high school band marching in a Mardi Gras parade, injuring 12.

A flute and shoes were left lying on a highway after the crash in the beach town of Gulf Shores, where authorities said three victims were critically injured and nine others had less-severe injuries. City spokesman Grant Brown said the victims ranged in age from 12 to 17.

“This is 39 years that this parade has been going on. These are our children; these are our friends and our people. To have this happen is horrible,” Grant said at a news conference.

Brown said the Gulf Shores High School band had just entered the parade route when the vehicle, which was staged behind the band, lurched forward into the group. He said there is no reason to think the crash was anything other than a “horrific accident.”

Officials said the driver is cooperating and there is no indication that drugs or alcohol were involved.

Police Chief Ed Delmore said investigators have obtained a search warrant for the 2008 Ford Expedition and hope to get its electronic data. They were also reviewing video of the scene.

The annual parade was canceled immediately as firefighters and other emergency responders turned from participants into caregivers.

A man who works at a nearby automotive shop, James Reeves, described the aftermath as “chaos.”

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