CHATTANOOGA, TN -- No criminal charges will be filed over a Shriners dune buggy that ran into the crowd during a downtown parade and injured eight people, a prosecutor said Monday as police released a video of the crash.
James H. Brooks, 68, of Riverdale, Ga., was driving a red dune buggy in circles when it brushed the rear of a yellow mini-car and ran into the crowd. Police at the time said it was a "freak accident."
Five of eight people injured in the Aug. 11 crash were taken to hospitals, including a 3-year-old child and an adult who suffered broken bones.
Brooks declined comment Monday.
About 5,000 Shriners were in Chattanooga for an annual convention when the accident happened. Willard P. "Bill" Wagner, director general of the convention, said the accident was "regrettable" and that Shriners hold hundreds of such parades each year.
The accident was the second involving vehicles crashing into parade bystanders in less than two months in Tennessee.
Six people were killed and 23 injured when a drag racing car driven by Australian-born Troy Critchley careened into a crowd June 16 while performing a "burnout" routine -- spinning a car's tires sending up clouds of smoke -- at a Cars for Kids car show parade in Selmer, located 80 miles east of Memphis.
Chattanooga police spokeswoman Sgt. Jerri Weary said the video shows that "better safety precautions need to be taken, to ensure the safety of the patrons."
She said the district attorney's office "decided not to pursue prosecution."
Bret Alexander, an assistant district attorney in Hamilton County, said he watched the video three or four times and agreed with police that there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
"It requires criminal negligence," Alexander said. "We didn't see any intentional conduct under the law, knowing conduct or reckless conduct ... We felt this was misjudgment, a mistake but did not rise to the level of criminal negligence."
He said recklessness requires "impairment, drag racing or extremely excessive speed."
Tom Petty, 37, of Antioch, gave the video to police. Petty said Monday that he and his girlfriend were watching the parade standing along the parade route with their five young children when the dune buggy crashed right in front of them.
Petty said he helped lift the dune buggy off a woman and child.
"They were right next to us," he said. "If they didn't hit the little midget hotrod it would have hit us."
Petty said he has no reservations about taking his children to another Shriners parade, possibly next year in Nashville.
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