USA

Navy veteran in custody after Times Square crash

Navy veteran in custody after Times Square crash

18-year-old Alyssa Elsman was visiting New York City from MI and was with her younger sister at the time of the tragic crash which injured 22 others.

Witnesses said Rojas drove the wrong way on the street before careering onto the sidewalk, where he drove for at least three blocks.

Twenty three people were struck by the auto before it was stopped by a security barrier.

The crash that killed Ms Elsman injured as many as 20 others, including her 13-year-old sister, who was on vacation with her.

The vehicle came to rest with its two right wheels in the air as Rojas got out of the auto and attempted to run away. But investigators quickly turned their focus to the sobriety and mental health of the driver, identified as Bronx resident Richard Rojas.

Police said early indications were that the crash was not terror-related, but tied to a driver with a history of driving under the influence of intoxicants.

It was not immediately clear when Rojas would get a lawyer or be arraigned.

In April 2015, he was arrested for Driving While Impaired (DWI) in Manhattan and also pleaded guilty to the offense later. Witnesses said Rojas appeared to be intoxicated when police apprehended him.

During this time, he had told police he was being harassed and followed.

They are expected to survive, officials said. Rojas enlisted in the Navy in 2011 and was an electrician's mate fireman apprentice, according to the Navy.

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Cheryl Howard and her daughter were out shopping when the auto sped down the footpath.

"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.

The White House says that President Trump has been "made aware" of what has happened.

The vehicle appeared to catch fire after crashing. "We had seen four people laying on the sidewalk that were being given assistance by other pedestrians", Patrick Graves said.

Annette Proehl of Pennsylvania, was in Times Square with children on a field trip when she heard the screeching tires of the vehicle and people screaming.

The auto was lodged on a steel bollard - of which there are more than 200 on Times Square sidewalks to stop vehicles from coming through.

"#FDNY confirms updated patient count at Times Square motor vehicle incident - 19 injuries, 1 fatality", the fire department tweeted.

Famous across the world for its bright lights and advertising billboards, Times Square is typically packed with tourists and office workers.

That network of barricades, though, is far from a complete defense.


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