An 18-year-old woman was killed and at least 22 people injured Thursday when a speeding car plowed into pedestrians in Manhattan’s bustling Times Square, city officials said.
The driver of the 2009 Honda Accord — Richard Rojas, 26, of the Bronx — is in custody, New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. Rojas has been arrested twice in New York — in 2015 and 2008 — for drunken driving, he said.
“Right now, he is being transported to a testing facility where (officials) will test him for drugs and alcohol,” Assistant Chief William Aubry said.
There is no indication the incident, which unfolded just before noon, was an act of terrorism, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and other officials said. It is being investigated as an accident, a police official said.
Car was ‘out of control’
Before striking pedestrians, the car was “out of control,” an emergency management official said. Four people were critically injured but are expected to survive, officials said.
The speeding car jumped the sidewalk on the west side of 7th Avenue at 42nd Street and barreled into pedestrians for three blocks before crashing at the northwest corner of 45th Street, police said.
Witnesses described a harrowing scene that started with screeching tires and ended with screams and panic and a fiery crash at one of the world’s most visited sites.
“A woman in front on the sidewalk was hit and tossed before then car reached 44th st, continued plowing people down at full speed up to 45th street, where it was stopped after crashing into more people and the light post,” posted Instagram user Ed G Val, who from across the street “saw the car speeding north on the west sidewalk of southbound 7th Ave.”
Harlem resident Tyezhane, 20, who would only give her first name, said she was walking to work at a shoe store when she saw the car on the sidewalk. She bolted across the street.
“There were a lot of people out, enjoying the good day, and then I heard screaming and the car running over bodies,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on. At first, I thought someone was intentionally doing it. I was scared for my life.”