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Child killed by float at Santa Claus parade in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia logo 2018-11-25 CBC/Radio-Canada

A four-year-old girl is dead after falling beneath a float Saturday night at a Santa Claus parade in Yarmouth, N.S., police said. 

"A very tragic incident, very traumatic for everyone who was involved with the parade and at the scene," said Cpl. Dal Hutchinson, of the Nova Scotia RCMP. 

"My understanding is there were a lot of people nearby when this took place. So our thoughts right now are with this little girl's family, as it's a very difficult time, but also with the community, with people that were there watching the parade."

The incident happened just before 7 p.m. near the intersection of Main Street and Starrs Road in Yarmouth, about an hour after the Yarmouth Christmas Parade of Lights began. 

"She was not on the float. She was running alongside of the moving float when she fell underneath the float," Hutchinson said.

'All of a sudden, we just heard screaming'

Vance Webb, a retired machinist who lives on the outskirts of Yarmouth, attended Saturday's parade with his wife, stepson and three grandchildren.

"We were just watching the parade, and then about 30 feet away, I hear — all of a sudden, the float stops, and I kinda see something on the ground," Webb told The Canadian Press in a phone interview.

"Then all of a sudden, we just heard screaming. It was pretty close to us."

Webb said the entire scene descended into "mayhem" as people realized what had happened.

"People within 50 feet of it — none of us are OK. All the adults were crying. Everywhere I saw, there were hundreds of people crying," said Webb. "This is really gonna affect the town."

'A huge tragedy'

The girl was treated at the scene immediately by RCMP officers and Emergency Health Services. She was taken to Yarmouth Regional Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Mayor Pam Mood wasn't at the parade, but said now is a time for the community to come together.

"This is a huge tragedy, something you could never even dream of," Mood told CBC News.

A spokesperson for the RCMP in Nova Scotia said the girl was running alongside a moving float at the parade in downtown Yarmouth when she fell underneath it. © Robert Short/CBC A spokesperson for the RCMP in Nova Scotia said the girl was running alongside a moving float at the parade in downtown Yarmouth when she fell underneath it.

"So right now, this entire community is mourning [and] very concerned for the family, the first responders, anybody involved in that. The community is just spending our time comforting each other and making sure everybody is OK."

Seeking help

Hutchinson said he knew there were many people who witnessed the incident and suggested that people may want to reach out for help, including first responders, who will be offered assistance if they ask for it.  

"If you're struggling with what you witnessed, it's very important to talk about it and seek some help to deal with those emotions," he said.

An RCMP spokesperson said police are not looking at laying criminal charges. 

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