MaCali Cormier is shown in this undated handout photo. The four-year-old girl who died in a tragic accident at a Christmas parade is being remembered as a child who “loved helping other people” and had a passion for learning. MaCali Cormier died Saturday night after she fell under the wheels of a float during the annual Parade of Lights in Yarmouth, N.S. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Cormier Family

Young girl killed by Christmas parade float in Nova Scotia

The four-year-old was said to be ‘full of love and life’

As residents of a small Nova Scotia town mourn a little girl who was run over by a float in the annual Christmas parade, questions are being raised about safety measures along the parade route.

MaCali Cormier, 4, died Saturday night as the annual Christmas Parade of Lights in Yarmouth, N.S., was drawing to a close around 7 p.m.

“She was a very, very great kid. So full of love and life,” Devan Boudreau, a family friend who had known MaCali since her birth, said Monday.

She was remembered as a child who had a passion for learning and “loved helping other people.”

Her obituary, posted Monday on the H.M. Huskilson’s funeral home website, said Cormier was a pre-primary student at Yarmouth Central School and “couldn’t wait” to go to the new school that is being built across the street.

“MaCali will be remembered as an awesome big sister to Tessa and Matthew Cormier,” read the obituary. ”Most of all, MaCali will be remembered as a little girl who loved helping other people.”

She also enjoyed swimming, camping, horseback riding, dancing and watching YouTube videos, the obituary said.

RELATED: Newborn baby abandoned in B.C.; woman arrested

A witness to the tragedy, local resident Vance Webb, said when he arrived to watch the parade with his step-son and three grandsons, he and his wife noticed there were vehicles parked on both sides of Main Street — the same street used for the parade.

“They were parked all along the parade route, bumper-to-bumper,” he said in an interview. “It created hundreds of spots where kids were running in and out. It reduced the road size. Of course, kids want to see the parade, so there’s a tendency for them to poke out from behind the cars.”

Webb, a former machinist and volunteer firefighter who moved to Yarmouth 14 years ago, said he had never seen vehicles lining both sides of the street during previous parades.

“The fact that the road was narrowed by the parked vehicles — it was not good. That should never happen.”

Officials with the Town of Yarmouth, who issued a permit for the parade, could not be reached for comment Monday.

An Oct. 4 entry form on the Facebook page for the Christmas Parade of Lights noted that parking would be allowed on Main Street. Parade officials did not return phone calls, but issued a statement on social media saying they mourned the family’s loss.

“The parade committee is devastated by the traumatic accident during the Christmas Parade of Lights,” it said. “The focus is on coming together as a community and helping this family through a very difficult time.”

Webb said he and his family were watching the parade when they noticed that a float being pulled behind a truck started jerking in an unusual manner before it stopped. Then he saw something on the ground and he heard people screaming.

He said there was ”mayhem” once people on the street realized what had happened.

“People within 50 feet of it — none of us are OK,” he said. “All the adults were crying. Everywhere I saw, there were hundreds of people crying.”

A spokesman for the funeral home said they have chosen to absorb the funeral costs. He said donations for a trust fund set up for the family can be submitted to the funeral home.

“The family is struggling enough without the added burden of having to pay funeral expenses, so we’re just another member of the community that’s trying to help them out,” the spokesman said in a brief interview.

Since Saturday, dozens of friends have sent messages of condolences to the two young parents, whose Facebook pages speak of deep sorrow and sympathy.

Boudreau, who had known MaCali since her birth, said in an interview Monday he appreciated the many condolences pouring in.

“Not only is Canada and everybody in Canada grieving over this, but everyone around the world is also grieving about this,” said Boudreau, who has a son, 12, with MaCali’s father’s sister.

Boudreau, 29, said MaCali was a friendly, happy girl who always wanted to be part of what was going on.

“It’s unbelievable. Even if you were a stranger and you walked by her in the mall, and you looked at her, she’d say hi or give you a hug,” Boudreau said.

“There’s an angel watching down on us now, who doesn’t deserve to be watching down, who had a hell of a lot of life left in her that everybody wanted to see. She was so full of joy, and she was so happy.”

A vigil was to be held Monday evening at Frost Park, which is close to the town’s waterfront.

Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood said more than 40 people showed up at a downtown hotel on Sunday to receive grief counselling.

“There were a lot of tears,” Mood said Monday. “It was raw, emotional. I’ve never experienced anything like that. People were just very open, and it was a safe place to be.”

Grief counsellors were to be dispatched to local schools on Tuesday, when students return from a previously scheduled day off, Mood said.

“The most important part is that people all grieve differently, and we need to respect that in each other,” Mood said. “And it’s not just emotional. It’s a physical reaction to tragedy.”

In a statement, the Tri-County Regional Centre for Education said it had implemented its crisis management plan.

“Members of our crisis management team will be in schools on Tuesday morning to provide support for our staff and students,” the statement said.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Dal Hutchinson said Monday police will be taking statements from witnesses and the girl’s parents.

RELATED: RCMP investigate report of abduction attempt involving 7 year old

“This was an extremely traumatic event that was witnessed by so many people, including children, who were present to enjoy a family event,” Hutchinson said in an email. “We encourage people to seek professional help to manage their emotions after having witnessed such a tragic incident.”

Hutchinson confirmed police had seized the vehicle and float to conduct mechanical inspections.

“It’s too early in the investigation to speculate what charges, if any, are warranted,” he said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 test tube. (Contributed)
test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health launches online booking for COVID-19 tests

Testing is available to anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms

Mainroad Communications warns of coming weather event.
Mainroad Communications notifies drivers of snowfall event over next 24 hours

It’s that time of year again. A weather event is heading to… Continue reading

Cranbrook's Casey Hanemayer reaches a rating of 1022, jumping up 17 points and becoming the highest ranked player in Canada. Paul Rodgers file.
Cranbrook’s Casey Hanemayer becomes Canada’s highest-rated disc golfer

Cranbrook’s Casey Hanemayer has become Canada’s highest ranked disc golfer, after the… Continue reading

Salvador delivers donated sand for Scout sandbag sales. Photo submitted
Support Kimberley Scouts; buy a sandbag

Salvador Ready Mix is delivering several loads of bedding sand to Resker… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Volunteer registered nurse Stephanie Hamilton recieves a swab from a driver as she works at a Covid-19 testing site in the parking lot at Everett Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
13 more COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

There are 624 cases in the region since the start of the pandemic

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Touchstones Museum has opened up Nelson’s Cold War bunker to the public. The unique exhibit includes artifacts from the 1950s and 60s. Photo: Tyler Harper
Take cover! Cold War bunker opens to public in Nelson

The shelter was built in 1964 in case of nuclear fallout

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

Most Read