Saturday 19 October 2019

Driver suspected of killing two people, injuring seven others told police: 'I have a drinking problem'

Tashonty Toney, 32 (Photo: New Orleans Police)
Tashonty Toney, 32 (Photo: New Orleans Police)

A driver suspected of killing two people and injuring seven others in New Orleans told police "I have a drinking problem", according to a police report.

New Orleans police said Tashonty Toney, 32, was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and other charges after crashing his car on Saturday evening on a busy thoroughfare near the route of one of the city's largest Mardi Gras parades.

Police spokesman Andy Cunningham said in a statement on Sunday morning that authorities are waiting for the results of a blood alcohol test but they believe the suspect was impaired.

Nola.com/The Times-Picayune said a police incident report claimed Toney refused to take a field sobriety test and told officers he had struggled with alcohol.

"I have a drinking problem," the police report quoted Toney as saying.

"I should have gotten help, I'm going to jail for a DWI."

Toney's bond was set at 510,000 US dollars (£385,000) by a magistrate commissioner on Sunday.

He did not speak during the hearing and was represented by a public defender, the newspaper said.

The public defender's office in New Orleans did not immediately return a phone message Sunday from The Associated Press.

Mr Cunningham said Toney was the son of a New Orleans police officer and promised the department's investigation will be "open and transparent."

Saturday was Toney's birthday, the news release said.

New Orleans Police examine damaged cars and bicycles in Esplanade Avenue (Michael DeMocker/NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune/AP)

In addition to vehicular homicide, Toney was charged with seven counts of vehicular negligent injury, hit-and-run, and reckless operation, the police news release said.

The crash happened along a multiple-block stretch of Esplanade Avenue, a leafy street that connects the city's biggest park with the French Quarter.

The scene was close to the route of the Endymion parade, one of New Orleans' largest Mardi Gras parades, which was held Saturday.

New Orleans Emergency Medical Services spokesman Jonathan Fourcade said a man and a woman - both believed to be about 30 - were killed.

Director Emily Nichols told WVUE-TV three of the five people brought to the hospital were in critical condition.

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