HEIDELBERG, Germany — A 12-year-old boy was killed Wednesday during Heidelberg High School’s homecoming parade after he apparently grabbed hold of a truck in the parade while riding alongside on a scooter, then fell.

The boy was identified as Maurice Long by a spokesman for U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg.

He died at the scene in front of some 300 parade spectators, according to Norbert Schaetzle, a spokesman for Heidelberg’s German traffic police, which along with the U.S. military, is investigating the boy’s death. The incident occurred about 6:45 p.m. on South Lexington Avenue on Patrick Henry Village.

Schaetzle said it appeared the boy struck his head on the curb and had suffered head injuries, but that an exact cause of death could not be determined until an autopsy, which was scheduled for Thursday.

Maurice was the son of a chief warrant officer assigned to Headquarters Company, V Corps, and his wife, according to Harry Connors, a spokesman for U.S. Army Garrison. The family lives in Patrick Henry Village. Both parents, whose names have not been released, were spending Thursday with the company commander and the garrison chaplain, Connors said.

The boy was riding a nonmotorized scooter, along with another boy, when he apparently decided to hitch a ride from the second vehicle in the parade. Maurice grabbed onto the Ford Bronco’s right side, between the door and the rear, Schaetzle said, then apparently lost his balance or stumbled and fell.

The Bronco was being driven — at a slow, parade pace to allow cheerleaders and football players to walk in front of it, Schaetzle said — by a 34-year-old male civilian married to a staff sergeant. Schaetzle declined to identify the man.

The driver was unaware that the boy had grabbed onto the truck, Connors said.

Although the driver apparently did nothing wrong, German police are calling in an expert to examine his actions, as well as those of the boy, to determine how the death occurred, Schaetzle said. The driver was checked at the scene to determine his blood-alcohol level, which is standard procedure, Connors said.

Maurice was a pupil at Heidelberg Middle School, according to David Ruderman, a spokesman for Department of Defense schools. His death sent shock waves throughout the Heidelberg school system.

“We’ve been talking about it all morning,” Ruderman said. “Our crisis management teams were notified and activated. The schools are just flooded with counselors.” The middle school has about 630 pupils, Ruderman said.

Mandy Delgado, a counselor at Youth Services Open Recreation, said that Maurice was a great kid.

“He was sweet. He was playful, involved. He was a joy to have around,” Delgado said.

At the high school, which has an enrollment of 770 students, “the kids are pretty upset,” said Doris Brodie, an assistant principal, and teachers and administrators were frequently checking in with them.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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