Did a drunk driver cost four people watching a homecoming parade their lives — including a 2-year-old boy?
Adacia Chambers, 25, faces that question when she appears in court on Monday, along with four counts of second-degree murder, and the potential prospect of life in prison.
She allegedly plowed into a crowd gathered in anticipation of Oklahoma State University’s homecoming game in Stillwater on Saturday, injuring an additional 47 people. Eleven of them were 13 years of age or younger.
Here’s a recap of how it happened and an update on the condition of the 17 injured people who remain in the hospital, four of whom are fighting for their lives in critical condition.
Festive OSU fans
“America’s brightest orange.” The proud slogan of Oklahoma State University well describes the scene of the crowd lined up on a street, decked out in orange jerseys to fire their team on against the University of Kansas Jayhawks.
For many, it was a family outing with children in tow. And fans were hopeful for OSU’s undefeated Cowboys, nationally ranked No. 10 by USA Today’s Coaches’ Poll.
The mood couldn’t have plunged more dramatically in an instant.
Out of the blue, a car plowed into the masses after bouncing off a parked police motorcycle. From a distance, fans saw the car punching into the crowd.
“I can’t describe it any more clearly than this: people flying in the air,” OSU graduate student Paul Sims said.
Student Kailey Carter saw the car coming and tried to sprint. It knocked her airborne.
“The car hit me as it was stopping, and then I flew over some strollers,” she told CNN affiliate KJRH, holding up a bandaged left wrist.
Geoff Haxton stood about 100 yards from the crash site watching the aftermath.
“All there was was smoke and panic. Half the emergency personnel in the county were here,” Haxton said. “People were running. (My) first instinct was to get my kids away from the street.”
Madison Atwell, 7, survived the lunging car with six broken ribs, a concussion and stitches, her family said.
But someone may have died while saving Madison.
Her aunt, Julie Franklin, said a woman at the scene pushed Madison out of the way. The car took the woman’s life instead, Franklin said.
Among the four dead were Marvin Stone, 65, a retired OSU professor and researcher, the school said. His 65-year-old wife, Bonnie, died too. She had worked for the university for more than 30 years.
The 2-year-old boy who died was Nash Lucas, the son of another OSU employee, Nicollete Strauch, who survived, the school said.
Nikita Prabhakar, 23, was visiting Stillwater. She was an MBA student at University of Central Oklahoma, her school said. Prabhakar was originally from Mumbai, India.
Worried loved ones
At a local hospital, Mark McNitt kept vigil with family on Sunday, as loved ones waited to hear the results of surgeries and medical tests performed on the severely injured.
His stepfather, Leo Schmitz, 54, was one of the four clinging to life in critical condition.
“It’s been a crazy 24 hours,” McNitt said, tearing up. A day before, Schmitz was standing by his side at the parade.
“All I remember is a gush of wind, and then the sound,” McNitt said. Then chaos broke out like a bomb had gone off.
He was thankful for the doctors’ work and care people from across the state have shown. “We feel the love, and we’ll get through this,” he said.
On Saturday, after careful deliberation, officials decided to let the football game proceed, OSU President Burns Hargis said.
Before the game, the football team knelt in solemn prayer at the 25-yard line.
Fox Sports sportscaster Tim Brando described the pregame atmosphere as “the kind of somber feeling” like he’d never felt before. OSU won the game handily.
Late Sunday, students filled a campus square to light candles and pray for the dead and the injured.
“We gather to embrace and remember,” the university tweeted. It offered counseling services to students and faculty.