GENERAL NEWS

Victim killed in Times Square crash identified as 18-year-old Michigan woman

May 18, 2017, 9:30 AM | Updated: 6:22 pm
(Twitter Photo/@FDNY)...
(Twitter Photo/@FDNY)
(Twitter Photo/@FDNY)

The victim who was killed on Thursday after a car jumped a curb in Times Square and plowed into a group of pedestrians has been identified.

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

Elsman was the sole victim in the crash, which occurred after 26-year-old Richard Rojas drove his car down the sidewalk for three blocks into the heart of New York City’s theater district before crashing into a security barrier.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said 22 more people were injured in the collision, including Elsman’s 13-year-old sister.

Seven people sustained critical or serious injuries. Officials said they are expected to survive, though that may change.

Rojas is a U.S. citizen with a criminal history. He is a Navy veteran from the Bronx. He was being tested for drugs and alcohol.

Police do not believe the attack was terror-related.

The crash happened about 9 a.m. Arizona time.

Pandemonium erupted when the vehicle barreled through the prime tourist location and came to rest with two of its wheels in the air. The car leaned on a lamppost and steel barriers intended to block vehicles from getting onto the sidewalk.

“He’s just mowing down people,” said Asa Lowe, of Brooklyn, who was standing outside a store when he heard screaming. “He didn’t stop. He just kept going,” he said.

The crash happened at midday on a hot, clear day that brought large crowds of people into the streets to enjoy the good weather. Video posted online showed steam or smoke pouring from the car for a few moments after it stopped moving.

After the car struck a barricade and stopped, the driver climbed out of his vehicle, Lowe said.

“He just started running until people tackled him down,” Lowe said. “Citizens just reacted.”

The White House said President Donald Trump was “made aware” of the situation in Times Square and will continue to receive updates as the situation unfolds. Press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that Trump was briefed before New York authorities confirmed the death.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with police and city officials, were at the scene of the crash.

The sidewalks in many parts of Times Square and surrounding blocks are lined with metal posts designed to prevent cars from getting onto the sidewalks and other public areas.

That network of barricades, though, is far from a complete defense. There are many areas where vehicles could be driven onto packed sidewalks or public plazas.

Times Square also has a heavy police presence at all hours of the day and night.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Victim killed in Times Square crash identified as 18-year-old Michigan woman