Mechanic Crushed by Float : Sunny 99th Rose Parade Marred by Six Injuries

From Times Wire Services

The sun-splashed pomp of the 99th Rose Parade in Pasadena pushed aside superpower TV messages, but the New Year's spectacle was marred by six injuries, including a mechanic crushed beneath the wheels of a float carrying mechanical dancing pigs.

A teen-ager was also hurt in the accident, and four spectators were injured by a runaway horse during the procession.

The parade lineup included 60 floats festooned with nearly 15 million flowers, 22 bands, 275 horses and such float-riding celebrities as actor and grand marshal Gregory Peck, former heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali and moonwalking ex-astronaut Edwin E. (Buzz) Aldrin. Only two floats broke down, fewer than usual.

Police arrested more than 452 Tournament of Roses spectators among the hundreds of thousands, some of whom waited up to 24 hours for prime vantage spots. Most of the arrests were for public intoxication, but 18 were for drunk driving, 14 for illegal drugs, six for concealed weapons, five for assault, two for grand theft and two for lewd conduct, police spokeswoman Ronnie Nanning said.

Camper Delighted

"Camping out on the street all night is an experience, it's fun," said Tom Gonzalez, 19, a Yorba Linda resident on leave from the Navy in Virginia. "You can't do this every day."

Crowds along the 5 1/2-mile route bundled up to ward off temperatures that, dropping to near-freezing at dawn, apparently kept the number of sidewalk spectators to slightly below the predicted 1 million, said Police Lt. Lynn Froistad.

Reporters who have covered the parade for years placed the crowd at between 600,000 and 750,000.

Because of timing conflicts, the White House agreed to an earlier release of prerecorded New Year's messages from President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to avoid upstaging TV coverage of the parade.

Float Lurches Forward

The injured mechanic, a 21-year-old man whose name was withheld, was working on the 55-foot La Canada Flintridge entry, "Lovely Hula Hams," which depicted three mechanical dancing pigs, when the float suddenly lurched forward and ran over him, spokesman Ken Veronda said.

The mechanic and an 18-year-old volunteer, slightly injured in the same accident, were taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital. The mechanic was listed in fair condition and the family asked that no information be released. Nanning said he was seriously injured.

At about 9:30 a.m., a man and three children were injured when one of eight horses marching in a unit representing the Valley Hunt Club--the Pasadena-based organization that launched the Rose Parade in 1890--was startled by a bugle and charged into the crowd.

Dr. Gary deWet, 44, a chiropractor from Napa Valley who was standing along the parade route, was stomped by the horse along with his 12-year-old daughter, Gina, parade officials said.

In Good Condition

DeWet and his daughter were X-rayed for possible fractures, but hospital spokeswoman Margaret McPhillips said both were in good condition.

Mark Rebec, 4, and his sister, Nicole Rebec, 2, both of Pasadena, who were sitting next to the DeWets, were also injured.

Mark was admitted to the hospital for observation and listed in good condition, while Nicole was released after being treated for cuts on her face, McPhillips said.

Describing the mishap, Joan Rebec, the mother of the two Rebec childrens, said the incident happened without warning.

"We saw a horse coming at the crowd. At first I thought it was part of the parade," she said, "but it just kept coming. Instantaneously the horse was on us, pushing us down. . . .

No other injuries were reported during the 2-hour, 10-minute procession down the palm-studded streets 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Worldwide Audience

The two accidents were unseen by an estimated worldwide TV audience of 325 million and most of those who came in person to watch the procession, themed "Thanks to Communications."

The Unocal Corp. float, featuring Japanese dancers, won the Sweepstakes Trophy for most beautiful entry. Eastman Kodak's intricate floragraphs of such scenes as the Golden Gate Bridge won the Theme Trophy.

The Animation Trophy went to the Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream entry featuring a mouse climbing the trunk of an ear-wiggling pink elephant, and the Humor Trophy went to Lawry's Foods for a float with Garfield the Cat on a motorbike.

Late arrivals clogged nearby freeways and roads before the 8:20 a.m. start of the 60-float procession, featuring Peck as grand marshal and Arcadia High School senior Julie Jeanne Myers as rose queen.

'Best Seat in House'

"I've been watching the parade since I was 6 and to have the best seat in the house is beyond my wildest imagination," Peck said.

There were no major traffic calamities, but on Thursday four retirees suffered minor injuries when their bus, on a holiday sightseeing tour that included a Rose Parade stop, bumped into another bus in the Hollywood area.

Along the parade route, spectators rang in the New Year with noisemakers and, too frequently, liquor.

Last year, police arrested 435 people during the parade and another 40 during the Rose Bowl college football game several hours later.

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