Wednesday 13 December 2017

'Drunk driver' ploughs car into Mardi Gras crowd injuring 21

Police stand next to a truck that slammed into a crowd and other vehicles, causing multiple injuries Photo: AP/Gerald Herbert
Police stand next to a truck that slammed into a crowd and other vehicles, causing multiple injuries Photo: AP/Gerald Herbert

Rebecca Santana

Authorities have identified the man who allegedly ploughed into a crowd enjoying a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans while intoxicated.

The New Orleans police department issued a statement identifying the man as 25-year-old Neilson Rizzuto. Online jail records showed Rizzuto was arrested on a number of charges and was held at the city's jail.

The accident involving a pick-up truck came on Saturday during one of the busiest nights of Mardi Gras when thousands of people throng the streets of Mid-City to watch the elaborate floats and clamour to catch beads and trinkets thrown by riders. "We suspect that the subject was highly intoxicated," police chief Michael Harrison had said on Saturday evening.

Mr Harrison was asked by the media if terrorism was suspected.

While he did not say no, he did say it looked like a case of driving while intoxicated.

Twenty-one people were taken to hospital after the crash, with five victims taken to the trauma centre under guard.

However, their conditions did not seem to be life-threatening, said Dr Jeff Elder, city emergency services director. Seven others declined to be taken to hospital, he said. The victims range in age from as young as three or four to adults in their 30s and 40s, Dr Elder said.

Among the injured was one New Orleans police officer.

Mr Harrison said the officer, who was on duty, was undergoing tests to determine the extent of her injuries.

She was in "good spirits", he said.

As police and city officials assessed the accident scene, people streamed home as plastic bags that were used to hold trinkets and discarded beads littered the ground. Saturday night's parade was put on by the Krewe of Endymion, which is known for its long, elaborate floats and the big party it hosts at the Superdome after the parade.

One woman at the scene told the 'New Orleans Advocate' that a silver truck went close by her as she was walking through the intersection.

Carrie Kinsella said: "I felt a rush, it was so fast."

Another witness, Kourtney McKinnis (20), told the 'Advocate' that the driver of the truck seemed almost unaware of what he had just done. "He was just kind of out of it," she said.

Irish Independent

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