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'Drunk driver' kills several people at US parade

A woman drove her car into a crowd during the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade, killing four people. Police suspect she was impaired by drugs or alcohol.

More than 40 people were injured in Saturday's crash, which happened when a vehicle veered into a crowd that had gathered to watch the annual parade in the center of Stillwater, a city about 130 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of Oklahoma City.

The dead included a two-year-old toddler. Four children and three adults remained hospitalized, according to hospital officials. Most of them were believed to be in a critical condition.

Police said the female driver's Hyundai Elantra crashed through barricades and struck an unoccupied police motorbike before swerving into the crowd.

Onlookers stunned

One eyewitness described seeing people "flying 30 feet into the air like rag dolls," while another recalled seeing the panic in people's faces as they fled the scene.

The driver, identified as 25-year-old Adacia Avery Chambers, was taken into custody on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol. Police estimate her car was going between 72 and 80 kph (45-50 mph).

Stillwater police captain Kyle Gibbs said he hadn't witnessed an incident of this magnitude in his 29-year career in the force.

The suspect's father told the Oklahoman newspaper in a phone interview that he learned about the accident through social media and was stunned.

"I can't figure this out. This is not the person that's my daughter. ... I can't imagine alcohol being involved. She is not an alcoholic that I'm aware of," Chambers said, adding that he would pray for the families and friends of the victims.

Silence for victims

Oklahoma State University said it decided against canceling its homecoming football game, which went ahead as planned against Kansas and was dedicated to those killed in the tragedy.

University President Burns Hargis said the community was devastated and heartbroken, adding that the "homecoming parade is the most wholesome of events and to have it marred in such a way is incomprehensible."

Several US colleges and universities hold homecoming festivities - annual celebrations for past and current students - and local media reported that Oklahoma State University's are believed to be among the largest in the country, with tens of thousands taking part every year.

mm/bk (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)