RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) —  What should have been a celebration to bring in the holiday season turned into a tragedy in Raleigh Saturday.

A young girl, dancing in this year’s Christmas parade, was hit by a float. The girl later died, police said.

The marching bands, floats, and performances are all staples of Raleigh’s annual Christmas parade.

More than 65,000 people lined the streets of downtown Saturday morning, for the 78th annual celebration.

Until it became a moment of chaos.

“The truck was blowing its horn. We didn’t know if we were supposed to move, because we knew the truck was supposed to be behind us, but it kept on getting closer,” explained Megan Barghout, a member of CC & Co. Dance Complex. “We all got pushed out of the way and it just kept going down the hill.”

Barghout was dancing in front of her dance studio’s float, right near the corner of Hillsborough Street and Boylan Avenue.

She told CBS 17 that one of her fellow dancers was run over.

“I was kinda scared. I’m still kinda shaking,” Barghout said.

It happened quickly.

CBS 17 photojournalist Al Currie was recording video of the parade when he witnessed the terrifying moments. 

“The driver had his windows down when he was coming past me. He was honking,” Currie explained. “He was yelling and saying he couldn’t stop. Everyone was yelling to stop, stop, stop over and over again.”

It took several Raleigh police officers, parade staff, and people from the crowd to stop the truck.  Some even went in front of the out-of-control vehicle.

But it was too late for the young dancer.

“I believe she went up under one of the tires,” said Currie. 

She was taken away in an ambulance after first responders rushed to help her on the scene.

As other dancers waited to hear about the extent of her injuries, they leaned on each other in tears, and hugged their parents for comfort. 

Parents of dancers with the troupe told CBS 17 they were terrified.

“Oh, I’m crying. I was so worried. I’m so very, very sad,” said Marilee Johnson, Barghout’s mother. 

The parade was canceled about an hour after it started.

Landen C. Glass (Raleigh Police Department)

Raleigh police are still investigating why the driver, identified as 20-year-old Landen C. Glass of Goode, Virginia, could not stop. 

Officers said he was interviewed and cooperated with detectives.

Glass was charged with:

  • Misdemeanor death by motor vehicle
  • Careless and reckless driving
  • Improper equipment
  • Unsafe movement
  • Carrying a firearm in a parade