Navajo Nation president almost hit by SUV that drove through parade, injuring 15

The parade was to celebrate the 100th year of the Intertribal Ceremonial, according to KRQE.
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 9:06 AM MST|Updated: Aug. 5, 2022 at 12:06 PM MST

GALLUP, NM (3TV/CBS 5/AP) — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez was among those almost hit as a large SUV barreled through a Native American parade in western New Mexico, injuring at least 15 people.

Police detained the driver Thursday evening and later said he consumed alcohol before driving through the parade lined with thousands of people.

Many people captured the chaotic scene on video, showing a large brown vehicle speeding down a main street in the small city, against the direction of the parade. Children performing traditional dances appear to have been among the first to see it rushing toward them. They can be seen running to the side as people scream and families scramble to get out of the way.

The vehicle then swerved onto a side street and pulled into a parking spot before trying to pull out again, hitting a police car. Officers then converge on the vehicle, pulling at least two people out and handcuffing them on the pavement.

Two Gallup police officers were among those hurt. No one was killed.

“My family and I, as well as many of our Navajo people, witnessed the tragic events firsthand,” President Nez said. “We saw children who were shedding tears and people shaking with fear and we did our best to comfort them and let them know that everything would be okay.”

He added that the Navajo Nation will have a day of prayer on Sunday for all faiths “so we can heal together.”

The nighttime parade is a highlight of the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Centennial Celebration, founded in 1922 to showcase Native American culture.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.