Teen dies as car careens down N.Y. sidewalk
NEW YORK — A man who appeared to be intoxicated steered his car onto a sidewalk running through the heart of Times Square on Thursday and mowed down pedestrians for three blocks, killing a teenager and injuring 22 others, before he was tackled by bystanders.
Pandemonium erupted when the vehicle barrelled through the prime tourist location and slammed into a security barrier, coming to rest with two of its wheels in the air. The car leaned on a lamppost and steel barriers intended to block vehicles from getting onto the sidewalk.
“He didn’t stop,” said Asa Lowe of Brooklyn, who was standing outside a store when he heard screaming. “He just kept going.”
“It was going at a fast rate of speed and to me it looked like it was trying to hit as many people as possible,” Annie Donahey, 24, told the New York Times. “People were trying to jump out of the way.”
The driver was tackled by pedestrians and taken into custody. He was being tested for drugs and alcohol and charges are pending.
The crash killed an 18-year-old woman, and the injured included her 13-year-old sister, police said.
The driver, a 26-year-old Navy veteran named Richard Rojas, was taken into custody and was undergoing tests for alcohol and drugs, police said.
Rojas had been arrested at least twice previously for driving while intoxicated, once in 2008 and once in 2015, police said.
He pleaded guilty to an infraction in 2015 and was ordered to complete a drunken driving program and lost his licence for 90 days.
In previous arrests, he told authorities he believed he was being harassed and followed, according to a law enforcement official who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
Rojas enlisted in the Navy in 2011 and was an electrician’s mate fireman apprentice, according to the Navy. He was most recently based at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Fla., and was discharged in 2014.
The crash happened at midday on a hot, clear day that brought large crowds of people into the streets to enjoy the good weather.