Victim killed in Times Square crash was 18-year-old tourist

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 19, 2017

People attend to an injured man after a vehicle plunged into him in Times Square in NY on May 18, 2017.

Police have identified the victim as 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman from Portage, Michigan.

Police say an 18-year-old woman killed by a vehicle that plowed through pedestrians in Times Square was a tourist from Portage, Michigan.

Rojas has been taken into police custody and will undergo drug testing. Law enforcement sources told WABC in NY it is believed he had been smoking the drug, also known as K2, prior to the crash. "People were beside them, . we were trying to tell (police) they were hurt".

"People were jumping out of the way, but he just kept going".

But when the former United States navy veteran escaped his burning vehicle and lunged at terrified witnesses, those who had just watched the carnage unfold ran toward the man with no regard for their safety in an attempt to apprehend him before he could hurt anyone else.

"I ran toward him and tackled him down", Bradix said, adding that he was assisted by an off-duty police officer and two passers-by. He is a US citizen, and there is no reason to believe this was related to terrorism at this time, officials said.

"People were being hit and rolling off the vehicle", said Josh Duboff, who works at the nearby Thomson Reuters headquarters.

The incident sparked instant jitters after recent deadly car-ramming attacks in London, Berlin and the French city of Nice, but officials said early evidence did not point to a terror link. He was taken into custody in Times Square by officers after his Honda Accord ended up wedged atop pedestrian safety bars at Broadway and West 45th Street, police said.

Authorities and witnesses said Rojas drove his auto the wrong way up a Times Square street and plowed into pedestrians on the sidewalk. The 26-year-old driver of the vehicle, Richard Rojas, is believed to have been intoxicated and has a history of drunk driving. The woman's 13-year-old sister was among the injured. He pleaded guilty to an infraction in 2015 and was ordered to complete a drunken driving program and lost his license for 90 days.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Rojas is a veteran of the U.S. Navy with a history of two previous drunk-driving arrests and a May arrest for menacing.

A source for the New York Police Department told Reuters Rojas was believed to have been under the influence of some intoxicating substance at the time of Thursday's incident, but preliminary test results for alcohol came back negative. Details of the circumstances were not immediately available. At first, I thought someone was intentional doing it.

The White House says that President Trump has been "made aware" of what has happened.

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