A young woman was killed and at least 22 others were injured after a speeding car driven by a US Navy veteran ploughed into pedestrians on a pavement in Times Square.
Eye witnesses said the car made a U-turn in the middle of 7th Avenue in midtown Manhattan during heavy traffic. The maroon Honda saloon then continued for approximately three blocks against the flow of traffic, leaving bodies strewn in its wake.
People described pedestrians screaming and running from the vehicle, while others lay in the intersection, unable to move.
The car eventually crashed into a telephone pole and stopped on 45th Street and Broadway. The intersection marks the heart of one of New York City’s most popular tourist destinations. The crash follows recent deadly car-ramming attacks in London, Berlin and the French city of Nice.
An 18-year-old woman and her 13-year-old sister were struck midway through the driver’s rampage directly outside the offices of the media giant Thompson Reuters. The 18-year-old tourist from Michigan, named as Alyssa Elsman, was killed. At least 22 other people were injured.
“People were being hit and rolling off the car,” said Josh Duboff, who works at Thomson Reuters. He said he leapt out of the way to avoid being struck.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called the crash “a very serious incident”, but emphasised that there is no indication that it was a terrorist act.
“Even when incidents occur, it should not shake people’s fundamental knowledge that they are safe in Times Square,” he said.
Police suspect the driver, Richard Rojas, was driving while intoxicated. Witnesses say they saw him emerge from the vehicle panicked and shirtless.
The 26-year-old US citizen has been arrested twice for drink driving in 2008 and 2015. A week ago, Mr Rojas was arrested and charged with…