Teen dies in crash in times square

Angie Massey
May 19, 2017

NY mayor Bill de Blasio speaking from the scene said: "Based on the information we have at this moment, there is no indication that this was an act of terrorism".

Portage Central Principal Eric Alburtus tells the Detroit Free Press that Elsman was a "kind, compassionate student known around the school for selling delicious muffins she baked in a cooking class".

Witnesses said the motorist mounted the sidewalk in a burgundy Honda sedan and sped along for more than three city blocks, knocking people over before the auto struck a pole and came to rest at 45th Street and Broadway in Midtown Manhattan.

The driver, 26-year-old New York resident Richard Rojas, struck 23 people as he drove along a Broadway sidewalk from 42nd street to 45th street, killing one woman, said New York Police Department Commissioner James O'Neill.

The auto came to rest with its two right wheels in the air.

A Planet Hollywood door supervisor tackled the driver who plowed into pedestrians in Times Square Thursday and helped hold him, he told ABC News. The officials weren't authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

The carnage raised immediate fears of terrorism, fuddled by recent attacks in England, France and Germany in which vehicles ploughed through crowds of pedestrians.

"Based on the information we have at this moment there is no indication that this was an act of terrorism", the mayor said.

Friends said the 26-year-old was in good spirits the night before the attack, but had been changed forever by his time served in the military and would often drink to numb the pain.

It was not immediately clear when Rojas would get a lawyer or be arraigned. Police said he is a Navy veteran and has two prior arrests, in 2008 and 2015, for driving under the influence. After pleading guilty in 2015, he lost his driving license for 90 days.

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Police authorities also said he was arrested just last week when he allegedly pulled a kitchen knife on a visitor at his Bronx home. The law enforcement official said the driver was from the Bronx. He was an electrician's mate fireman apprentice. He turned around and saw the auto hitting people on the sidewalk.

"There were people on top of the hood that were being flown over the sides and the girl who had been walking next to me... was in a heap on the ground, and she was clearly dead, and it just happened so quickly", she added.

The White House said President Donald Trump was briefed about the situation.

Rojas drove more than two blocks on the sidewalk in the crowded tourist area.

One pedestrian was killed in the crash.

Josh Duboff, who works nearby and jumped out of the way to avoid being hit, said: "People were being hit and rolling off the auto".

Officials said Rojas made a U-turn onto a sidewalk in Times Square.

A fire department chief, Mark Foris, was at an unrelated elevator rescue when he saw the auto whiz by and called in emergency crews. "I was very nervous, because you can think of a lot of things, knowing everything that's going on nowadays". There are many areas where vehicles could be driven onto packed sidewalks or public plazas. He was also arrested this month for an unspecified drug offense, they said.

"We could see that there was someone being pulled and a struggle", he said.

Other reports by GizPress

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