By Julian Grace and Lora Lavigne, WRAL reporters
DURHAM, North Carolina (WRAL) — Parade-goers in Durham were forced to rush out of the way of a speeding wrong-way driver, as a car plowed into the parade route on Sunday.
Cellphone video captured the alarming moment during the Hillside High School homecoming parade, which draws huge crowds each year.
In the video, people were heard screaming to get out of the way as the driver speeds past along Fayetteville Street.
“I just remember hearing someone scream, ‘move, move, move!’ said Durham City Councilman Leonardo Williams, who was walking along the parade’s path. “We looked up, and it was a car coming toward us, at least 60 to 70 mph.”
Williams said the car barely missed him – and children from R.N. Harris Elementary School, who were marching in the parade.
Williams said the incident made him think of Hailey Brooks, who died after a truck carrying a parade float hit her during the Raleigh Christmas Parade in 2022. He said he was afraid for a moment that Durham may have a similar tragedy.
Fortunately, there were no reports of any injuries at the homecoming parade.
“We thought someone was hit, but it was actually a backfire from the car,” Williams said.
He said he hopes the near-miss makes organizers and parade-goers more vigilant in the future.
“Hopefully, we’ve learned and are going to learn from this today and better secure the parade for NCCU’s homecoming, which is going to be even more people,” Williams said.
That event, North Carolina Central University’s “Ultimate Homecoming Parade, is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023.
Deputies chased the car, but have not confirmed what happened after that. Meanwhile, just a little ways down the same road, a deputy handling traffic also stopped two reckless drivers on dirt bikes who were trying to enter the parade without permission. Durham police had to come help, and arrested the two individuals.
Durham police also arrested a woman with a felony warrant and two other suspects – but it is unclear if any of these people were connected to that speeding car.
WRAL News has contacted the Durham County Sheriff’s Office for more information on the incident.
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