NEW ORLEANS -- The parents of a 3-year-old girl crushed to death by a Mardi Gras parade float filed a $1.4 million lawsuit against the city, the police department and the social club sponsoring the celebration.
Margaret McKenzie died of a crushed skull March 3 at the conclusion of the Zulu parade.
According to the suit, filed Friday, the accident occurred when the child was knocked from her father's grasp and thrown under the front wheel of a Zulu float at the parade's disbanding point.
The girl's parents said the death could have been avoided if the city and the police department had maintained proper crowd control, inspected the floats for safety and provided barricades to keep spectators from the unloading area.
The lawsuit also listed as defendants the float designer, along with the driver and owner of the tractor that pulled it.
Attorney Allen M. Katz said he filed the suit quickly in hopes of drawing attention to the need for safety measures before next year's Carnival revelry.
'There is no question today that Mardi Gras is not as safe as it used to be,' he said. 'When you think of the shootings that occurred and this incident -- Mardi Gras just isn't safe anymore.'
During the Bacchus parade two nights before Fat Tuesday, an off-duty police fired into the St. Augustine High School marching band, injuring a drummajor and two spectators, after a scuffle with a band chaperone.
A special grand jury indicted Detective John Walters with negligent homicide in the shooting incident.
Another child was killed Mardi Gras Day when spectators surged forward for trinkets thrown from the floats, knocking over a ladder on which he was perched.
The deaths of the two children, along with the bizarre shooting, marred the traditional frivolity and sparked cries for increased measures to ensure safety.