Halloween took a deadly turn for trick-or-treaters, paradegoers and party guests across the country, on a holiday that federal safety regulators say is one of the deadliest on America’s roadways.
At least 15 people were killed and nine others were injured in accidents and a fire connected to the festivities in the past few days, in states from California to New York, and Washington to Maine.
In Southern Illinois on Thursday night, a freight train struck a minivan, killing a 35-year-old woman and three of her children, the authorities said. The mother, her two daughters, ages 10 and 18, and her 13-year-old son were killed, according to the state and local police. The only survivor was the woman’s 9-year-old son, who was flown to a hospital in St. Louis, the police said. His condition was not immediately released.
The family was headed to a Halloween parade in Vandalia, about 70 miles north of St. Louis, according to the police. The officials said that when the woman was about a block away, she drove her minivan past flashing lights and onto the railroad tracks. It was raining at the time of the accident.
In western New York on Friday night, a 3-year-old boy was killed and a 16-year-old girl was hospitalized with serious injuries after they were hit by a car while trick-or-treating, the police said.
The two were crossing a road in Greece, just northwest of Rochester, when they were hit by a car. The 77-year-old driver, who was returning home from dinner with his wife, stayed on the scene and was cooperating with investigators, the police said.
“It certainly is the worst scenario that we could’ve imagined for Halloween,” said Sgt. Jared Rene, a spokesman for the Greece Police Department. “We’re going to do the investigation and figure out exactly what happened.”
Officials said that the police took a blood sample from the driver to be tested for alcohol, but that he showed no signs of intoxication and was not charged on Saturday.
Halloween is one of the deadliest nights of the year because there are more drunken drivers and pedestrians on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2012, 48 percent of fatal crashes on Halloween involved drunken drivers, compared with 31 percent on an average day that year, the agency said.
It is especially dangerous for pedestrians, who account for about one of every four people killed in crashes each year on Oct. 31, double the average for an ordinary day, according to the agency.
SOURCE: ASHLEY SOUTHALL
The New York Times