For the second time in as many years, a Christmas parade in America has turned deadly. Last month, Darrell Brooks was convicted of intentionally driving his vehicle through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on November 21, 2021, killing six and wounding dozens more. Then over the weekend, the brakes on a truck towing a float in a Christmas parade in North Carolina reportedly malfunctioned, resulting in the death of an 11-year-old girl who had been performing in the parade.
On Saturday morning, Landen Christopher Glass, 20, was driving a GMC Denali on behalf of the CC & Company Dance Complex, which provided one of the many floats and dance teams appearing in the annual Christmas parade in downtown Raleigh. According to reports, at some point during the parade route, the brakes on the Denali malfunctioned, and the driver of the truck lost control.
Witnesses claim that Glass repeatedly honked his horn and shouted out of the window that he could not stop the vehicle and warned people to get out of the way. Though most were able to escape to safety, sadly, one of the CC & Company Dance Complex members performing that day — 11-year-old Hailey Brooks — was struck by the truck at a low speed and later died of her injuries at an area hospital.
"All of a sudden we looked up and saw a truck on the other side of the road kind of coming towards us," Worth Creech, a witness, later recalled. "They were able to get most of the girls out of the way. Unfortunately, we saw one of the girls get run over."
Witnesses, officers, and parade officials eventually brought the truck to a stop.
Glass, who was once a dancer with the CC & Company Dance Complex and who has reportedly been affiliated with the organization since 2018, was arrested and charged with several offenses, including misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, careless and reckless driving, improper equipment, unsafe movement, and carrying a firearm in a parade. He has been released on $4,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court again in January.
Glass, who supposedly "works on safety systems of cars," has been ticketed for various non-moving vehicle infractions in the last year. He received four citations, one as recently as October 30, for failing to have the Denali in question inspected. He has also been issued citations for improper exhaust systems and no marker lights, but the vehicle connected to those citations is not necessarily the Denali.
The arrest warrant for the parade incident stated that Glass has received tickets for "no inspection, tint violations, improper equipment and speeding." All of those tickets were issued in Virginia, not North Carolina, where Glass has no criminal or traffic history, the arrest warrant asserted.
WTVD reported that the truck may have been modified with a lift kit and after-market wheels and rims.
The family told reporters that Glass will not be issuing a statement. A representative for the family will make a statement at a later time.
Meanwhile, the community has come together to mourn the loss of young Hailey. One memorial reads, "'Hailey', dancing in the arms of Jesus!" An area school, Carolina Charter Academy, which Hailey was not attending currently but may have attended in the past, issued a statement to honor her memory: "She is not a current student at CCA. However, once a Cardinal always a Cardinal, and we know many of your children may have known Hailey and been impacted by her passing."