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New Orleans: Two deaths during Mardi Gras parades lead to tandem float ban

4 years 4 months 3 weeks ago Sunday, February 23 2020 Feb 23, 2020 February 23, 2020 12:48 PM February 23, 2020 in News
Source: WWL-TV

NEW ORLEANS - This Mardi Gras season, celebrations have been overshadowed by the devastating deaths of two parade-goers in New Orleans. 

Both 58-year-old Geraldine Carmouche and 58-year-old Joseph Sampson were killed in connection with tandem floats and now, the City of New Orleans has cancelled all tandem floats in the remaining parades of the season.

According to WWL-TV, at least three of the remaining krewes that have multiple tandem floats agreed to abide by the ruling and split their connected multi-part floats into separate floats.

The Krewes of Bacchus released a statement, officially declaring their compliance with the City's request to split all tandem floats and are working to find enough tractors to pull the additional floats.

"We have spoken with Kern Studios and we will comply with the City of New Orleans’ request to split our tandem floats," the statement reads. "The Krewe of Bacchus will roll as usual on Bacchus Sunday at 5:15 pm from Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas."

The Krewe of Orpheus also said they will comply with the City's request.

"The Krewe of Orpheus extends its heartfelt sympathy to the families of those whose lives were lost in the recent parade incidents. Orpheus will comply with the recommendations of Mayor Latoya Cantrell and Chief of Police Shaun Ferguson," the statement reads. "Safety remains our priority, and moving forward we offer our help to ensure the safety of parade-goers as well as krewes."

Thoth captain Penny Larsen told NOLA.com late Saturday night he was still working to hire the tractors needed, but said he expected to work it out by the end Saturday evening.

"We are gonna roll completely," he said.

Saturday's fatality is the second in the week. Part of the Krewe of Nyx parade was stopped and canceled when Geraldine Carmouche was struck by a parade float, Wednesday. 

Police say Carmouche lost her life when she tried to cross in between a tandem float, apparently tripping over the hitch that connected the two sections of the float and falling down before getting caught under the back half of the float. 

Similarly, during Saturday's accident, Joseph Sampson was caught between two parts of a tandem float. 

Shortly after the fatal accident, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell released a statement, calling the deaths an "unimaginable burden to bear." 

The mayor said:

To be confronted with such tragedy a second time at the height of our Carnival celebrations seems an unimaginable burden to bear. The City and the people of New Orleans will come together, we will grieve together, and we will persevere together.”  

Our hearts break for those lost and for their loved ones, and our prayers and deepest sympathies are with them — and will be with them in all the days and months ahead. May our people take this moment to uplift our brothers and our sisters, to mourn as one and to move forward, together.

On Sunday morning, Cantrell confirmed the city had worked with krewes overnight on making changes to the parades. She also said police would work to keep crowds away from moving floats. 

"Public safety officials will continue to actively enforce setback standards: making sure ladders are 6 feet back from the curb and that spectators are standing well back from the moving procession," Cantrell said. 

"In the weeks and months ahead, we will be looking at further changes that need to be made to make our routes and our celebrations more safe — but the work starts right now.” 

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