Suspected DUI driver arrested in Tacoma after ramming barrier, driving into parade route

Courtesy Hannah Calvi

Tacoma police on Sunday arrested a 74-year-old man suspected of driving drunk and ramming through a barricade onto South Tacoma Way where a Santa parade was starting. Video showed the driver accelerating toward the oncoming parade.

The car came to a stop on northbound South Tacoma Way just south of 52nd Street, and no one was injured. A Tacoma Police Department spokesperson said police don’t believe the man intended to drive into the parade route. Bystanders screamed and ran after the vehicle as it went up the road.

Hannah Calvi, a University Place resident, said her husband and daughter were in the parade, and she was waiting with other family for it to start when the car came up from behind them. She said the driver was going slow at first, but then accelerated and slowed down several times as others went to try to stop the car. Calvi said it was lucky the driver didn’t come through in the middle of the parade festivities.

“It hadn’t actually started yet, so a minute different and things would have ended up very different,” Calvi, 32, said.

Hundreds signed up to attend the Tacoma Santa Parade, which was scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. on South Tacoma Way from South 50th to 56th streets, according to its Facebook page. Mariners Hall of Fame pitcher Jamie Moyer was the parade marshal.

Tacoma police spokesperson Wendy Haddow said two officers were working traffic control at the parade, but the first to arrive at the scene were officers in a recruiting car in the procession.

Police said the driver went through heavy barricades at South 54th Street and South Tacoma Way. Officers arrived at 4:42 p.m. and the driver was arrested.