SLIDELL, La. -- What started as a day of fun took a terrifying turn. A float collapsed in Slidell, sending two people to the hospital. It happened at Robert and Second streets during the annual St. Patrick's Day parade.
As riders gathered near the site where the float collapsed, many were visibly shaken, some scratched and bruised. Throws were strewn around the street. The two-story float caved in two blocks from the start of Slidell's St. Patrick's Day parade route.
"It's scary, it's really, really, really scary," said rider Ashley Boos.
Float riders said 11 people were riding on the second story when it collapsed onto riders on the lower level.
"I was up top and don't know what happened, I did about two flips backwards and I had about 10 sacks of cabbage laying on top of me, I don't know, I couldn't move for about three minutes," said Boos. "It was the scariest thing."
One woman was pinned beneath debris and hospitalized with moderate injuries. Another man went to the hospital for a minor leg injury. Most of the floats 35 riders suffered bumps and bruises. Dozens of bystanders were nearby at the time.
"They had a bunch of people all along here, they had some people who had to run out of the way," said witness Arthur Dennis Fauver.
Float co-captain Ricky Natal said two tires blew out as the float was rounding a corner. They stopped to change the tires, but didn't ask riders to get off. Minutes later, the float collapsed.
"It's just a tragedy, these people spend all year waiting for this to be a good joyous day and then it kind of ends almost tragically," said Asst. Chief Kevin Foltz, spokesman for the Slidell Police Department.
Tow trucks worked to clear the debris, and the remaining floats were rerouted.
Fauver, as well as one rider, believe the float may have been carrying too much weight, though police aren't sure if that's the case.
Foltz said Slidell doesn't require on-site float inspections, but officials have been looking into writing a new ordinance.
"At this point, it's still in the planning stages and we're trying to get it finalized so we can have inspections to hopefully prevent something from happening like this again," said Foltz.
Police are still investigating what went wrong. The float co-captain said the recycled Mardi Gras float has been used for years. The captains say it's their first and last year riding in the parade.