HAYDEN, Ala (WIAT) — A Trafford man is facing several charges after investigators said he drove his vehicle towards families and children marching in the annual Christmas parade Tuesday night.
Hayden Police Chief James Chapman said there were no injuries, but the situation could have been much worse.
“There are just hundreds of people that are right at the edge of the road. Children, older people and he was within inches and feet of them at various times,” said Chapman.
Investigators charged Tommy Nix, 45, with reckless endangerment, reckless driving, and attempting to elude law enforcement, according to Chapman.
Police said Nix was already parked near the parade route that had been blocked off. For an unknown reason, officers said he drove towards the parade and did not stop for police.
Chapman was leading the parade coming from the other direction.
“Our police officers had tried to stop him at the intersection, so I put my car in park and jumped out and stared chasing the car. The band members that were behind my car, they were jumping and scattering out of the way. We were very fortunate that nobody got hurt,” said Chapman.
In charging documents, officers said Nix flipped off police and continued to drive forward after they attempted to stop the vehicle.
Nix eventually stopped the vehicle and was detained. Officers said Nix reported being unaware of the roads being blocked for a parade and did not realize two officers were trying to stop him.
According to court documents, when officers asked Nix why he flipped them off and sped past them, he allegedly responded that ‘He did not know why and that this was not him. He stated that he was a band booster and knew better,’ the arrest report reads.
Some parents captured video of the frightening incident as they were already watching performances by area school bands. Chapman said other families called HPD Wednesday to fill out additional police reports that could lead to more charges.
“We’ve charged him with the initial crimes that we can charge him with and we have individuals contact us by the minute to file reports and that are interested in charging him themselves,” said Chapman.
There are still plenty of questions about what led up to the incident, but for now Chapman is just glad everyone is OK.
“Even though his intent may not have been to injure someone, the fact is he created an atmosphere where he could have killed or injured many,” said Chapman.
Parents and community members told CBS 42 a lot of work went into planning and executing the parade, particularly by the West Blount Volunteer Fire Department. Many expressed disappointment that the incident overshadowed the annual family fun in the small community.
“They are very proud of their heritage and when they have an event like this where the Hayden band and their kids and grandkids are involved, with the Boy Scouts that are all in the parade, then it causes a lot of excitement,” said Chapman.
Chief Chapman said he hopes to have additional officers at next year’s event. This year, there were fewer officers available because there were other Christmas parades going on in the county that also need a law enforcement presence.
Stay with CBS 42 as this story develops.