Malaga City Hall declared two days of mourning last weekend after a six-year-old boy lost his life when he was run over by one of the floats in the annual ‘cabalgata’, the Three Kings parade held on January 5th.
Miguel R. M. was among thousands of children who lined the streets with their families to enjoy the parade and catch a glimpse of the Three Kings who would later bring them presents. However tragedy struck when, soon after the start of the event, at around 5.30 p.m., in Plaza del General Torrijos, the boy was caught under one of the front wheels of a float, apparently while searching for sweets thrown from above.
Volunteers accompanying the float, that was pulled by a four wheel drive vehicle, had managed to prevent other children from getting too close to the wheels after sweets had fallen in the gap in front of the trailer.
“I couldn’t reach, it was as if the float had swallowed him up. I couldn’t see him,” the volunteer closest to the wheel later told police. The city councillor responsible for citizen safety, Julio Andrade, explained on Tuesday that the volunteer had only been able to take hold of the boy’s feet.
The boy’s father, a forensic doctor from the Insititute of Legal Medicine, administered the initial first aid, a task that was continued by the ambulance service that arrived minutes later, although there was nothing they could do to save his life.
The parade was held up for more than half an hour. After the float involved in the accident had been removed the council decided that the rest of the parade would continue. Thousands of families still lined the route and it was feared that a decision to cancel the event could have created crowd control problems.
The city’s mayor, Francisco de la Torre, said: “Today has been the saddest day in my time as mayor.”
An initial 70-page police report, containing numerous witness accounts and videos as well as technical evidence was submitted this week to the courts.
The accident has sparked debate concerning safety measures during public events of this kind. The City Hall is considering the possibility of putting barriers up along the route for future parades although the mayor pointed out that this too had its risks, as children could still squeeze between the barriers and they would be an obstacle in the event of a stampede.
Meanwhile the victim’s classmates in the first year at El Limonar school were given special attention by teachers and the school psychologist on Tuesday, the first day back after the Christmas break. Miguel, whose eight-year-old sister goes to the same school, has been described as a cheerful and lively boy who loved tennis and judo. He was cremated on Sunday afternoon.