Politics Driver crashes car into pedestrians in New York City's Times Square

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The NYPD has the driver, Richard Rojas, 26, was in custody. Mayor Bill De Blasio said there is no indication the incident was terror related.

times square car play

times square car

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A driver was charged with second-degree murder, 20 counts of attempted murder, and five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide after he crashed his car into pedestrians on the sidewalk in New York City's Times Square on Thursday.

The New York Police Department said that the man, Richard Rojas, 26, "lost control" of the 2009 Honda Accord, and confirmed that he was in custody. He was being tested for drugs and alcohol.

Police said one person was killed in the incident. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said 22 others were injured.

The New York Post is reporting that the woman killed was Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old visiting the city from Michigan with her 13-year-old sister, who was also injured in the incident.

An investigation is underway, the NYPD said, though it is "believed to be an isolated incident." De Blasio said there is no indication the incident was terror related. Terrorists have used vehicles to crash into crowds in London, England and Nice, France in the past year.

The scene after the crash in Times Square on May 18, 2017. play

The scene after the crash in Times Square on May 18, 2017.

(Jeremy Berke/Business Insider)

Rojas is a Navy veteran who police said was arrested at least twice after driving intoxicated in 2008 and 2015. The Associated Press reported that Rojas was also arrested last week afer he allegedly pointed a kitchen knife at a notary who had come to his home in the Bronx.

Elena Kovachenko, a 16-year-old high school student from Queens, told Business Insider that she heard "bodies fall on the ground" when the car plowed through.

"It was horrible, and you could just see, he didn't stop. Once he kept hitting from that side, he just kept going down and down and down" along the sidewalk, she said. "It was as if his car was like a bowling ball, and people were just the pins, because so many people kept falling and falling. It didn't seem like it was going to stop."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on the scene being briefed. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump was made aware of the incident and "will continue to receive updates."

The smashed car sits on the corner of Broadway and 45th Street. play

The smashed car sits on the corner of Broadway and 45th Street.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

More than 300,000 pedestrians visit the heart of Times Square, where the crash took place, every day. It was 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday and Times Square was full of people.

"I didn't know what to do. I was in shock. I just stood there," Kovachenko said. "I was just so thankful I wasn't on the other side. I just can't imagine what those people are going through right now."

De Blasio offered his condolences to the victims and their families.

"This is a tough day for New York City, but I want to thank our first responders who got here so quickly," he said. "We feel deeply for those injured and particularly for the family of the young woman who was lost. Our prayers are with all of them."

News of the incident quickly spread on social media:

The mayor and NYPD Commissioner James P. O'Neill held a briefing on the incident:

Editor's note: The Elsman family has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for Alyssa's funeral, as well as her 13-year-old sister's medical bills. Link here.