A speeding vehicle plowed into several pedestrians in Times Square today, which left emergency first responders rushing to sort out the mess and provide medical assistance to everyone in need. BBC News reports that New York City police officers are still sorting out exactly what happened, but witnesses have indicated that the vehicle was being driven in the wrong direction before it jumped a curb.
Several Injured, One Dead
The current investigation underway indicates that there has been at least one fatality. Additionally, 22 other pedestrians were injured. The Times Square incident happened after other fatal and intentional car crashes in other parts of the world, namely those occurring in Berlin, London, and Nice. It’s unclear at this time exactly what caused the driver to lose control, but officials have quelled speculation by stating that the Time Square incident was not an act of terrorism. Instead, preliminary findings suggest that the unnamed driver was most likely under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
What Caused All of These Pedestrian Injuries?
The vehicle, a red Honda, ended up partially on its side and in flames. According to witnesses, the Honda was driven north down 7th Avenue’s west sidewalk.
The first victim appears to have been walking near the corner of 7th Avenue and 44th Street. After hitting her at full speed, the car continued to drive down the sidewalk until it collided with several more people at 7th and 45th.
Fortunately, the melee ended after the potentially inebriated driver crashed the Honda into a light pole. The entire area is currently closed off by police, so locals will need to avoid the intersection of 7th Avenue and 45th Street. The FBI is part of the investigation. None of the victims’ names have been released to the press yet, nor is there any official confirmation about the cause of the accident.
UPDATE: Driver Has a History of DWIs
Police have now released some preliminary information about the driver. According to ABC News, Richard Rojas, a 26-year-old from the Bronx, has two prior DWI arrests, and he’s also previously received other driving related violations. This lends credence to the theory that this horrific accident was caused by a person driving under the influence, but the official toxicology report will be the only way to definitively confirm this suspicion.
People at the scene have told several media sources that the driver attempted to flee on foot after crashing his vehicle. He made it as far as across the street before being tackled by police officers. Some witnesses have alleged that Rojas punched a police officer during the scuffle.
Bystanders Pulled Together to Help
The sidewalks of Times Square are typically full of pedestrians, so it’s fortunate that the death and injury toll wasn’t even higher. Rojas sped down the road and sidewalk going in the wrong direction for approximately three blocks. The first victim was tossed into the air by the impact, but this didn’t slow down the Honda at all.
In the aftermath of this tragedy, uninjured pedestrians were seen flocking to people in need. Some appeared to provide basic first aid while waiting for first responders to arrive. Others simply kept victims talking to help hold off the onset of shock.
Governor Cuomo Visited the Scene
In Times Square getting briefed by the NYPD. pic.twitter.com/xUR4kAPBnZ
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 18, 2017
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was informed of the incident and visited the scene to discuss the situation with police officers and Commissioner O’Neill. President Donald J. Trump was also called shortly after the incident, but there has not yet been any official statement made by the Trump Administration.
The driver, Rojas, used to be a member of the Armed Forces. It’s currently believed that 23 people in total were injured or killed, but these numbers are continuously being updated. It has been confirmed that at least four of the injured pedestrians are in serious or critical condition at a local hospital.
In a previous DWI arrest, Rojas was found driving more than 99 mph in a 50 mph zone, reports NBC Connecticut News. It has been estimated that Rojas was driving 80 mph today when his Honda struck the first victim.
[Featured image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]