One Dead After Vehicle Strikes Pedestrians in NYC's Times Square

Vehicle drove against traffic, witnesses report ■ NYPD says driver was likely intoxicated and incident is not connected to terrorism ■ 22 people injured

An injured woman lays on the sidewalk in Times Square after a speeding vehicle struck pedestrians on the sidewalk in New York City, May 18, 2017.
An injured woman lays on the sidewalk in Times Square after a speeding vehicle struck pedestrians on the sidewalk in New York City, May 18, 2017. MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS

A speeding car plowed into pedestrians on a sidewalk in New York City's busy Times Square on Thursday, killing one person and injuring 22, and authorities said there was no indication it was an act of terrorism. 

Witnesses said the motorist was driving against traffic before his burgundy Honda sedan mounted the sidewalk and struck pedestrians. The car hit a pole and came to rest at 45th Street and Broadway before police took the driver away. 

A view of the scene from a building in New York's Times Square, May 18, 2017.
Allison Kaplan Sommer

One woman was covered with a bloodstained blanket following the collision, which occurred close to noon at the Midtown Manhattan tourist venue, a Reuters witness said. Shoes were scattered at the scene. 

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters there was no indication it was an act of terrorism and that the driver had two previous arrests for drunk driving. Police identified the motorist as Richard Rojas, 26, of New York. 

City officials said the dead woman was 18 years old. 

The FBI is working with NYPD to investigate the crash, law enforcement officials said.

President Donald Trump has been "made aware" of the crash and he will continue to receive updates as the situation unfolds, the White House said.

Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them tourists from around the world, pass daily through the bustling commercial area, the heart of the Broadway theater district. 

Police heavily patrol the area. Many sidewalks are lined with barricades and planters for fear of vehicle attacks on pedestrians of a sort seen in recent months in Britain, France, Germany and Sweden. 

"People were being hit and rolling off the car," said Josh Duboff, an employee at the adjacent Thomson Reuters headquarters who jumped out of the way to avoid being struck. 

Television footage showed police officers restraining a man in a dark T-shirt and placing him in a police car. 

"One male in custody in the #TimesSquare vehicle collision," the NYPD said on Twitter. "It is believed to be an isolated incident, it remains under investigation." 

"I feel like it happened five seconds later and it could have been me and my father," said Bruno Carvalho, a 27 year old college student, who was touring Times Square with his father who was visiting from Brazil and saw the red Honda drive into the crowd in front of him. "Going to New York City seems like it's becoming a dangerous thing to do." 

Carvalho said that at least five of the victims he saw looked as if they were seriously injured and "didn't look like they would survive." 

Carvalho and other witnesses said the suspect ran out of the car after it crashed into a steel barrier and flipped onto its side. Two bystanders tackled the suspected and pinned him down before he could get far, and one ripped off his shirt to make sure that he didn't have weapons or an explosive belt.