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City of Lake Charles addresses float safety following fatal accidents in New Orleans

Updated: Feb. 24, 2020 at 7:36 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Another tragedy during New Orleans Mardi Gras resulted in the death of a second person after they were struck by a parade float.

The latest death happened Saturday night during the Endymion Parade when a man was hit by a huge float made up of three trailers. Nola.com says the same float was involved in a deadly accident during the same parade in 2008.

Saturday night’s accident was the second death involving a multi-section float. Wednesday night, a woman was killed after becoming trapped between sections of a tandem float in the NYX Parade. Now, officials have banned multi-sectional floats for the rest of Carnival Season.

That has safety top of mind for those officiating parades in Southwest Louisiana.

With the addition of more officers on the parade route and designated parade lieutenants on each float, officials say most safety aspects of Southwest Louisiana's Mardi Gras will stay in place for Tuesday's Krewe of Krewes Parade.

“As we see unfortunate, tragic situations that occur in other areas, we do take a step back and look at our events and see if there are areas that we need to make some improvements and take extra precautions,” said City of Lake Charle Public Information Officer Katie Harrington.

When it comes to tandem floats - the major component in the two fatal accidents in New Orleans - law enforcement says they hardly ever play a role in our Mardi Gras, although there was one originally scheduled to roll in Sunday’s Children’s Parade.

“We’ve only had one instance of a float being what we refer to as tandem," said LCPD Sergeant Scott Dougherty. “Steps were taken to ensure its safety but at the last minute they broke that float up and made it two separate entities to alleviate that problem altogether.”

We also asked about the requirements and what type of floats are allowed.

“A float can be no more than 8-foot, 10-inches wide, no more than 13-foot, 2-inches high from street level," Harrington said. “And no float should have a minimum turning radius that exceeds 55 feet. There are also provisions for standing and sitting on a float - what they can and can’t sit on.”

City officials said, so far in our area, there has only been one accident involving a parade float. Back in 2018, an individual fell from a float, but only suffered minor injuries. However, one potential hazard they are continuing to monitor is construction along the parade route.

“This year, having some minor construction projects going on along the route, we’ve had to make adjustments and work with property owners on fencing and barricades," said Harrington.

As an added safety measure, Mardi Gras officials have also hired more deputies to walk alongside each float in hopes of preventing accidents.

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