Police are confirming that an 18-year-old girl was the sole fatality in the horrendous incident in Times Square Thursday.
Identified as Alyssa Elsman, the young woman was walking in Times Square with her 13-year-old sister when a driver went over the curb and mowed down pedestrians, injuring 22 people, including the woman’s younger sister.
According to the NYPD, four people were critically injured with multiple traumas and open fractures. Three others were hospitalized with serious injuries. Fifteen were not seriously injured.
The status of Elsman’s sister has not been released.
Elsman and her sister were in the city with their mother, according to the New York Post. Before the accident occurred, Elsman posted a short video of Times Square to her Instagram account.
Trevor West, Elsman’s boyfriend of six months, told the New York Post he knew something was wrong when he didn’t hear back from Elsman after texting her.
“She would always text me back as quick as she could and when I didn’t hear from her, I knew something horrible happened. I knew something was wrong,” West said.
The driver is believed to be Richard Rojas, 26, of the Bronx. Sources say he told NYPD officers that he intended to kill his victims. Rojas had reportedly been smoking a synthetic marijuana called K2 prior to the crash, which may have caused psychotic episodes.
Rojas, a US military veteran, has a criminal history that includes two DWIs.
According to officials, his car was traveling down 7th Avenue, then made a U-turn onto the west sidewalk. The car drove on the sidewalk for three blocks and then he hit the 23 victims.
Witnesses say Rojas was seen “leaping up and down in the middle of the road” after the vehicle was stopped. They say the vehicle had been traveling at speeds of up to 80mph.
Sources say Rojas told police that he’d anticipated being gunned down. “You were supposed to shoot me! I wanted to kill them!” Rojas said, according to a witness.
Reportedly, Rojas admitted to drug use when he was questioned by the police following the incident. The allegation has not been confirmed yet, but reports say that Rojas tested negative for alcohol, but is being screened for other drugs at a testing facility.
You can see a video of the incident by clicking here.
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