New York Times Square crash: One dead and more than 20 injured as speeding car hits pedestrians

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  • One dead and more than 20 injured 
  • Victim named as 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman
  • Car ‘struck pedestrians intentionally’
  • One suspect arrested 

A man, who appeared intoxicated, drove his car the wrong way up a street and along a pavement in New York’s Times Square on Thursday, leaving at least one person dead and more than 20 people injured.

The incident initially sparked terror fears and police had the square locked down within minutes. Authorities were quick to reassure the public, at one of the busiest tourist spots in the world, that the incident was a car crash and not terror-related.

An 18-year-old girl, named as Alyssa Elsman from Michigan, was killed in the horrific crash. Her 13-year-old sister was among the injured.

Alyssa Elsman

At around midday local time, the car made a U-turn at a junction and drove northwards, the wrong way up the street. It then mounted the curb and careered along the busy pavement at pace, plowing into pedestrians for at least three blocks.

The burgundy Honda saloon was eventually stopped when it hit a stanchion at the corner of 45th Street and Broadway, and was left suspended between a lamppost and steel barriers intended to block vehicles from getting onto the pavement.

Times Square locator map

There was chaos in the aftermath of the crash, with people running and screaming. The driver got out of the car, which had steam pouring from it, and started running before being tackled by a traffic officer and members of the public.

"He’s just mowing down people. He didn’t stop. He just kept going," Asa Lowe, a witness. "He got out of the car and he just started running until people tackled him down. Citizens just reacted."

Annie Donahey told the New York Times: "It was going at a fast rate of speed and to me it looked it was trying to hit as many people as possible.

"People were trying to jump out of the way."

Times Square crash, in pictures

The suspect was named at Richard Rojas, a 26-year-old Navy veteran from the Bronx. He has two previous drink-driving convictions and reportedly told police after being apprehended that he had been smoking marijuana.

Rojas reportedly told police: “You were supposed to shoot me! I wanted to kill them.”

The driver, Richard Rojas, a 26-year-old Navy veteran from the Bronx

Credit:
Reuters

The incident left a trail of destruction, with several seriously injured victims receiving treatment and shoes scattered on the street. One body was covered with a blood-stained sheet.

Police cordoned off the square to all traffic, shutting down what is known as the Crossroads of the World.

Security was stepped up at high profile buildings across the city as a precaution and helicopters flew above Midtown Manhattan.

"There is no indication that this was an act of terrorism," said Bill de Blasio, the New York mayor.

The incident comes after several major terror attacks where a vehicle was used to run over pedestrians in London, Berlin and Nice.

6:41PM

Police name suspect 

NYPD have named the driver of the car as 26-year-old Richard Rojas, from the Bronx, reports Harriet Alexander. 

He reportedly had two previous convictions for drunk driving and driving while his licence was suspended.

He attempted to flee the scene but was stopped.

Emergency workers treat a victim

 

6:19PM

About Times Square 

Key facts | Times Square

 

6:11PM

Yards away from the crash, life goes on

Barney Henderson is in Times Square and has this image from the scene. 

 

6:02PM

Police to passersby: This was a car accident 

Police on the street telling pedestrians it was a car accident, not a terror attack, reports Barney Henderson in Times Square. 

 

5:59PM

Suspect 'had history of drink driving' – CNN

CNN reporter Will Ripley says the suspect had a history of drink driving. 

 

5:57PM

Police helicopters flying overhead 

Times Square is in lockdown with traffic blocked off at least one block surrounding it. Police helicopters are flying overhead and more emergency services vehicles continue to arrive, reports Barney Henderson in New York. 

"I didn’t see what happened but heard the screams and chaos afterwards," said Caitlin who works in a shop on 8th avenue adjacent to Times Square.

"I’m just trying to work out what’s going on like everyone else, but it looks bad. Someone told me [the driver] killed four."

It was unclear whether the square would be reopened in time for the evening theatre rush.

5:47PM

Fire department says suspect being tested for alcohol

Harriet Alexander reports that the New York fire department are testing the suspect for alcohol consumption. 

 

5:43PM

Car came off 42nd street 

Initial reports from local reporters suggest that the car came off 42nd Street, and drove north for four blocks, mowing dozens of people down on a pavement, reports Harriet Alexander in New York.

 

Picture taken with permission from the facebook post of Joshua Ray Garcia of the incident in Times Square, New York

 

5:38PM

Firefighters arrive at scene

Footage from Good Morning America shows firefighters arriving at the scene of the incident, which is not currently being treated as a terror attack according to US media. 

 

5:34PM

CBS: Incident 'not linked to terror'

CBS news, citing a New York police source, is reporting that this incident was non-terror related.

 

5:29PM

Suspect pictured as he is taken away by police

This mobile phone photo appears to show the suspect as he is led away from the car, a red Honda sedan, by New York police. 

 

5:28PM

Scenes of chaos in Times Square

New York police is yet to issue a statement as to whether this was a car accident or a deliberate attack. 

Photographs of Times Square show chaotic scenes, with a large police presence on site. 

 

5:20PM

Vehicle was a red sedan – police

Police in New York have told Reuters that the suspect was driving a red sedan and that he has been "removed" from the scene. 

 

5:18PM

Attack "seemed intentional"

An eyewitness told Reuters that the driver appeared to drive into pedestrians on purpose. 

Injured people are seen on the sidewalk in Times Squar

Credit:
Reuters

 

5:16PM

Moment suspect is arrested caught on video

#newyorkcity #timesquare #neveradullmoment

A post shared by @p_huddy913 on May 18, 2017 at 9:03am PDT

 

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