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Scary scene, but only driver injured as truck crashes during 4th of July parade

It’s the call you never want to get working for a small town police department on the Fourth of July, “vehicle into crowd.”

But that is what came over the radio on Thursday as Claremont Police Sergeant Robert Ewing was performing crowd control duties during the annual Independence Day parade.

Fortunately the initial report was not entirely accurate. There had, in fact, been an accident involving one of the parade vehicles, but reports from the scene indicate that the driver steered his vehicle away from the crowd to avoid injuries.

According to witnesses at the scene a flat bed truck that was part of the parade pulled off of Harrison into the parking lot at Joslyn Senior Center and suddenly accelerated gaining significant speed before crashing into a flag pole, an arbor and bushes adjacent to the center.

Natalie Venegas was sitting under an pop up tent at the end of the parade by the Joslyn Center when she heard the vehicle accelerate through the parking lot, “It all happened so quick he definitely got some speed.”

She described the driver as an older male with grey hair.

“I heard these girls scream and ran over, I saw the flag pole come down” Upland resident William Gordon said. “The cops did not play around they came out with guns drawn.”

He said that had been sitting on a bench right where the truck crashed but had left the spot because he wanted to talk with the people from the University Club float.

“Luckily it did not happen a few minutes earlier the boy scouts had been standing in the lot.” he said.

The first police officers to arrive secured the scene and then checked around and under the vehicle to make sure no one was hit. The driver was taken to an area hospital for medical evaluation. Police confirmed the only injury was the driver.

Other witnesses said that the driver appeared to deliberately steer the truck toward the building to avoid people. “You have to give him the benefit of the doubt,” Mr. Gordon said.

“The throttle may have stuck but I have not confirmed that,” Sgt. Ewing said as he continued to survey the scene. He also could not confirm that the officers had pulled their weapons.

Still it was very clear that the situation could have been a lot worse  “We go lucky,” Sgt. Ewing said “We got very very lucky.”

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com

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