Girl dies in Raleigh Christmas Parade tragedy: What went wrong?

Girl dies in Raleigh Christmas Parade tragedy: What went wrong?

RALEIGH, N.C. — The death of 11-year-old Hailey Brooks during Saturday’s Raleigh Christmas Parade is tragedy on two fronts.

First, a family and her dance team participating in the parade are dealing with their loss. Second, the 20-year-old-driver charged in the death, Landen Christopher Glass, will have to live the memories of those fateful seconds when his pickup truck drove toward a group of dancers, hitting and killing one of them.

The question that still remains is: What went wrong?

According to police reports, Glass told investigators he had recently done work on the brakes of his vehicle. The same police reports show Glass was cited for numerous traffic violations on Oct. 30, including failing to have his vehicle inspected.

As mechanics at Crossroads Auto Service conduct inspections and make repairs, Saturday’s Christmas parade tragedy hangs thick over their work.

“It’s an insane situation. I can only imagine what he was going through as he knew he didn’t have any control of the situation,” shop owner Marcus Best said.

Best thinks not only of Brooks, but also Glass, who now faces five charges. It includes misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.

A lot could have gone wrong, according to Best.

“Brakes are very complicated,” he said.

Best said anything from pad or rotor failure to contaminated or leaking brake lines, combined with trailer weight could put the truck at risk.

WRAL Investigates found Glass cited four times in recent years for failure to get his vehicles inspected in Virgina, but only one of those citations occurred after he bought the 2011 GMC Denali involved in the parade.

Also, WRAL Investigates found Virginia’s brake inspection requirements tougher than North Carolina’s as mechanics must check for damaged or missing parts, defective linings and drums, fluid leakage, and contaminated pads and rotors.

Best says inspections can’t catch everything and anything that can go wrong, but says inspections, maintenance and experience all matter.

“This situation unfortunately taught us all a lesson to be a little bit more prepared,” Best said.

Witnesses told WRAL Investigates the driver was yelling to warn the group of dancers that something was wrong. At this point, it’s unclear if he took any other actions to try to stop the truck, including putting it in neutral or risk applying the parking brake with a float full of parade participants behind him.

Glass’ court date is scheduled to take place on Jan. 26, 2023.

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