Tragedy strikes Bakersfield Christmas parade

December 15, 2023 /

As families gathered together to celebrate the annual Bakersfield Christmas parade on Thursday, December 9th, approximately 30 minutes before the parade began A white Ford F-150 reversed into the crowd, gravely injuring three victims.

The perpetrator was soon identified as Alan Lewis Booth; he is a 72-year-old who was allegedly driving under the influence.

The Bakersfield Police Department informed the public that “there was no threat to public safety.”

The three victims were identified as 77-year-old Rios Arnold, Dominic Ledesma, 21, and his father, Rocky Legault, 42. In an interview with EyeWitnessNews, Arnold’s daughters recount the life-threatening moments before the crash transpired. Rios “heard the chaos and pushed his wife out of the way,” causing Rios to take the brunt of the impact.

Arnold also managed to damage a food truck called “Poppi’s Pastrami & More.”

In an interview with KBAK Fox58, truck owner Misti Cole said, “He pushed my whole truck. He pushed it like 8 [feet].”

BFD managed to respond quickly to the event and transport the victims around 15 minutes after the altercation.    

The Bakersfield Christmas Parade committee released a statement responding to the incident:

“First, we, the Bakersfield Christmas Parade Committee (BCPC), are encouraged to learn that all three Christmas Parade spectators hospitalized after being struck by an individual’s vehicle are recovering from a tragic accident. After learning of the accident, we were in immediate contact with Chief Terry and other members of his team of Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) administrative officers. As Chief Terry has stated, immediate attention to those individuals who sustained injury was of paramount concern. Only after taking time to consider an alternate parade route, that being turning the parade south on Chester versus at “G” Street, did we consider continuing with the parade. Our collective concern at that point was whether it safe for longer vehicles (floats) to safely make the left turn at 20th Street and continue along the normal, easterly parade route. Once we received assurance that the turn could be safely made, we once again spoke with Chief Terry and his BPD staff regarding the continuance of the parade. Chief Terry and his staff advised there was no evidence of an ongoing threat to public safety which would necessitate canceling the parade, nor would canceling or continuing the parade benefit or hinder the ongoing investigation. The decision to continue the parade was made and spectators west of Chester were notified of the rerouting plan for them to decide if they wished to relocate. We then allowed time for that information to be broadcast and time for their relocation. The events of last night remain under investigation by BPD.”

Rios is in critical condition, as he suffered many bilateral leg fractures, a skull fracture, and a severe brain bleed. Dominic Ledesma and Rocky Legault are also in critical condition, but their injuries are currently unknown. Arnold’s family is still recovering from the incident and has decided to file a lawsuit against Booth.

In an interview with the LA Times, Officer Francisco Esguerra, a Bakersfield police watch commander, said, ‘Booth was at a hospital being treated for injuries related to the crash and had not yet been booked into jail.

The parade was delayed but continued minutes later.

This collision remains under investigation.

 For those who would like to support the Rios family in their recovery, they have started a GoFundMe which is linked below.