Update – The suspected driver of the vehicle has now been identified as, Richard Rojas, by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The 26-year-old Bronx man had two prior arrests for driving while intoxicated, in 2008 and 2015, and is currently being tested for alcohol consumption. Rojas is a U.S. citizen who previously served in the Navy, according to authorities.
There’s no indication the crash was related to terrorism, de Blasio said; however, the White House and FBI were made aware of the incident. The victims included an 18-year-old woman who was killed and her 13-year-old sister who was injured. Four of the 22 injuries were considered critical, and another three were listed as being in serious condition officials said. All are expected to survive.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene as the car careened the wrong way down three blocks, mowing down pedestrians. “He was driving very fast,” said Karma Namgyal, 49, a street vendor. “He was going the wrong way up the street and drove onto the sidewalk. He started hitting people. They were flying in the air. He plowed through them. The people he hit were face down. Everyone else started screaming. It was all fast. “
Several witnesses said the driver had attempted to escape; however, he was ultimately pinned to the ground by five people who held him at the scene until police arrived.
DEVELOPING STORY – New York Police Department spokesperson said today that police officers have taken one person into custody following an incident where a car jumped a curb and left at least 13 people injured and one person dead. Investigators said that the vehicle was apparently speeding when it jumped a curb and struck several pedestrians in New York’s Times Square on Thursday afternoon.
The FDNY confirmed that 13 people were being treated for injuries, and Reuters news agency reported one person had been killed. But the FDNY stopped short of of confirming any information about a death. However, Fox News is reporting that an NYPD source confirmed to them that an unnamed individual had been taken into custody in the incident.
A witnesses told reporters, “We saw people laying on the sidewalk… with crowds of people laying around them.” Another said, “You could see clumps of people down the sidewalk with people all around them trying to help them.”
In addition to the confusion caused by the incident, several buildings in the area are also reportedly on lock-down and police swarmed the busy intersection. Times Square is usually heavily populated with tourists, especially at this time of the year. Several blocks have been taped off by police around the scene.
Authorities have not issued any statement as to whether the incident was in fact an accident or if the car was intentionally driven into the crowd. The NYPD has thus far not released the identity of the suspect and the investigation is still ongoing at this time.
Photos of the scene clearly show a maroon sedan upended on steel barriers and a lamppost at the corner of 45th Street and Broadway. The FDNY received the first emergency call just before noon. Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted that he was en route to the scene.
The New York Police Department issued the following tweet: “Due to a vehicle collision with pedestrian injuries, emergency vehicles are in the area of #TimesSquare, Expect delays in the area.”