Sunday, February 3, 2008

Investigation underway in fatal Plant City parade float accident

Plant City -- Last night's City Commission meeting went on as scheduled. But from the prayers and the mayor's opening remarks, it was clear everyone's mind was on nine-year-old Jordan Hays. He was killed when he was run over by a Christmas parade float Friday night.

"No words can be spoken to ease the pain. I know all of us are searching for those words. There are no words," Mayor Rick Lott told the gathering.

After Friday's accident, city leaders are calling not only for a full investigation into what happened, but policy changes as well. Plant City Manager Dave Sollenberger told us, "We're not sitting back and ignoring this. We're deeply concerned and we never want to see anything like this happen again."

According to police, the boy was walking alongside the float drivien by his cousin, passing out candy to the crowd during the city's annual Christmas parade. His leg got caught in the wheel of the float trailer. He was pulled under and run over.

Johnny Knotts was among four people who tried to save Jordan as he was slipping away. "He was with four people who really loved him that night...and he was at peace," Knotts said.

The accident has left everyone in city government uneasy. Could it have been avoided? Were emergency responders there quick enough? Those are questions the City Manager wants answered in full reports from the police department, the fire department, and the parade committee.

The reports are due in the next few weeks. Once the city manager has compiled all the information, he plans on presenting some recommendations to the City Commission at their first meeting in January on what do do to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

Most city government officials plan to attend Jordan's funeral this Friday in Floral City.

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