Yesterday started as a great day for the Irish, but the parade literally ground to a halt. The parade had just turned off Bay onto Bull Street and was rounding Wright Square, when a car veered off the route and into both bystanders and marchers.
"I just saw people flying out of the way, and I saw some people get hit," witness Jeff Gronner told us.
Police say the parade had come to a standstill around Wright Square, but the gold Chrysler Sebring convertible failed to stop, speeding through the area, sending people diving for cover. "The accelerator must have stuck as fast as it was going, because it was going like a bullet towards the middle of the square," witness Anne Mac Donald said.
The out-of-control car came to a stop in the middle of Wright Square, but not before injuring eight people.
Parade goers watching the accident unfold in horror quickly jumped in to help. "Somebody screamed that there was somebody underneath [the car], so all of us guys picked the car up and started pulling the car back," said witness Richard Dasher.
Police have identified six victims who were treated and released: James O'Reilly, age 38, Mannville, NJ, Donald Allen, age 41, West Caldwell, NJ, Hank Reed, age 65, Savannah, GA, Frank Froelicher, age 68, Savannah, GA, Alyson Lipscomb, age 24, Cartersville, GA, and Rose Noll, age 32, Bradley Beach, NJ.
The two victims remain hospitalized: remain hospitalized; Norma King, age 48, Atlantic Beach, NJ, and Judith Carolyn Roach, age unavailable, Savannah, GA.
Among the injured, three marchers with the Monmouth County Police Pipes and Drum Band from New Jersey and two members of a G-8 security team.
As for the car's driver, 62-year-old John Sheppard, he was not hurt and is cooperating with police as the investigation continues. Alcohol was not a factor in the crash. The vehicle will be examined for any mechanical defect.