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NOPD chief defends tandem-float ban: 'It was the right decision'

Ferguson stressed that the new rule is temporary and will only last through the remainder of the Carnival season.

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson defended his decision Monday to ban tandem floats for the remainder of the 2020 Carnival season following two deadly float accidents in four days.

Ferguson stressed that the decision, made after a man was struck and killed by a float Saturday during the Krewe of Endymion Parade, is temporary and will only last through the remainder of the Carnival season. 

City leaders hope to meet with krewe representatives in an "icebreaker" meeting later this week to express their concerns and take feedback from the organizations on how to improve safety at parades.

Ferguson apologized for the financial impact that the abrupt change had on the remaining parades but said he stood firm on that decision.

"I know it was the right decision. And I thank those Carnival krewes for their cooperation in still being able to put on the best, free party on earth," Ferguson said. 

Ferguson said it was unclear if the tandem floats were what caused the deadly accidents.

"I would not blame tandem floats. I would not blame it on the Carnival krewes. I don't think there is one particular issue or thing that we can blame." Ferguson said. "What we can do is look at how we can ensure the safety of everyone."

Ferguson said that barricades and accordions between tandem floats have been recommended as changes, but city leaders want to talk about the impact possible changes could have on the krewes.

"There will be some changes. What those changes will be, I do not know. That is the purpose of the meeting," Ferguson said. "But there will definitely be some changes." 

The death at the Endymion parade came as New Orleans was mourning the death of a 58-year-old woman who was run over by a parade float Wednesday night. The death had occurred during the parade of the Mystic Krewe of Nyx.

“To be confronted with such tragedy a second time at the height of our Carnival celebrations seems an unimaginable burden to bear. The City and the people of New Orleans will come together, we will grieve together, and we will persevere together,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement.

On Sunday, Cantrell re-emphasized the need for safety precautions and said the issue will be examined.

“In the weeks and months ahead, we will be looking at further changes that need to be made to make our routes and our celebrations more safe — but the work starts right now," she said in a statement. 

Adding to the safety concerns, two people riding on floats in the Thoth parade in New Orleans fell Sunday from a lower level and was injured.

Before this year, the most recent Carnival float-related fatality in Louisiana happened in 2009, when a 23-year-old rider fell from a float and in front of its wheels in Carencro, about 120 miles west of New Orleans. And in 2008, a rider getting off a three-part float after the Krewe of Endymion parade in New Orleans was killed when the float lurched forward and the third section ran over him, according to police. 

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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