A man drove the wrong way up a Times Square street at lunchtime Thursday and plowed into pedestrians on the sidewalk, killing one and injuring about 20 others, a law enforcement official said.
BREAKING NEWS: 26-year-old Richard Rojas, a veteran of the U.S. armed forces, is the suspected driver of a car that plowed into pedestrians in Times Square. There are unconfirmed reports that the driver was intoxicated. NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio says there are no signs of terror. A woman is dead and 23 others have been hurt, according to the NYPD. *Update* 2:35pm EST
Rojas, a US military veteran who has a criminal history including two DWIs, reportedly told police he had been smoking marijuana before the incident occurred.
In 2008, Rojas was arrested for drunk-driving in Queens, and in 2015 he was arrested again for drink-driving in Manhattan.
The New York Police Department closed off the area after the collisions occurred just before noon, at the corner of 45th Street and Broadway.
Witnesses say the driver of the maroon Honda sedan drove up Seventh Avenue in the wrong direction before mounting the sidewalk and plowing down pedestrians for three blocks. He then crashed into a pole and attempted to flee.
The 18-year-old woman who was killed was pictured lying on the sidewalk with her face covered before officers covered her bloodied body with a sheet. She had been walking with her 13-year-old sister – who was injured – when they were struck.
Injured victims were seen sprawled across the sidewalk as first responders and other pedestrians tended to them.
Of the 22 people hurt, police said that four people had been critically injured with open fractures and multiple traumas and three others were seriously injured – all were hospitalized. Some 15 more were not seriously injured, and were not hospitalized.
The driver was pictured running across the road with his arms flailing after crashing into a pole on the sidewalk
Shocked bystanders watched on as a crazed Rohas jumped around and ran across the street in an attempt to evade police
The driver was eventually tackled to the ground and bundled into a squad car
The speeding vehicle has struck at least 20 pedestrians on a sidewalk in New York City’s Times Square, killing one person and seriously injuring another four. The driver was arrested
The body of a person killed in the accident was pictured lying underneath a bloodied sheet
Police were filmed taking a man into custody shortly after the deadly collision. He has been identified as Richard Rohas, 26, from the Bronx
The driver reportedly has a history of driving under the influence. He was said to be ‘visually impaired’ when he was arrested
In a joint press conference, with Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said that the car had been driving down 7th Avenue when it made a U-turn onto the west sidewalk.
The car then drove up the sidewalk for three and a half blocks, striking the 23 victims before crashing into a stanchion near the corner of 45th Street and Broadway, Nigro said.
He said that Rojas attempted to flee the car after the crash, but was tackled by a traffic agent. He added that other officers, and also members of the public, assisted in subduing Rojas.
Rojas has now been taken to a testing facility where he will be screened for drug use.