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At least 1 dead after car slams into crowd in Times Square - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

At least 1 dead after car slams into crowd in Times Square

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At least one person has died and nearly two dozen were hurt when a wrong-way driver slammed into a crowd of pedestrians in Times Square Thursday, senior officials familiar with the investigation tell NBC 4 New York.  

The driver, 26-year-old Richard Rojas of the Bronx, according to multiple law enforcement sources, was taken into custody after barreling into the lunch-hour crowd near 43rd Street and Seventh Avenue shortly before noon. The sources say Rojas, who has a history of DWI arrests and license suspensions, made a wrong turn on Seventh Avenue and started careening down the sidewalk, mowing down pedestrians before crashing into a traffic pole.

A cause of the crash is under investigation, but authorities say it's believed to be an "isolated incident" with no nexus to terror. Law enforcement sources Rojas appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he was taken into custody. Test results are pending, but given his history, sources say DWI is investigators' leading theory for the cause of the crash. 

In one of his two previous DWI arrests, the suspect was driving faster than 99 mph in a 50 mph zone, sources familiar with his record say.

Fire officials say a total of 20 people, including the person who died, were hit by the vehicle. Four of the survivors were taken to hospitals in critical or serious condition. Sources say the number of victims is expected to rise as law enforcement agencies coordinate their rescue efforts.

Social media erupted with concern as witnesses described screaming and abject chaos in the Crossroads of the World. Someone tweeted a photo of a maroon-looking sedan halfway on its side after appearing to crash into a traffic pole. Smoke emanated from the hood as pedestrians stood by in horror.

Police radio captured the urgency of the response.

"Times Square, we got a car running people over on 42-7, going northbound on 7th ave, running people over," one NYPD dispatcher said, according to audio clips from Broadcastify. "Multiple people injured. Notify everyone."   

Witnesses said the vehicle was speeding -- one said up to 80 mph -- at the time of the crash. Many said it came out of nowhere.

Kristen Boyce said she was seconds away from being hit; now she can't get the sound of it mowing down victims out of her head. 

"I was in shock, I was screaming," she said. "No one even saw it coming.""All of a sudden I heard this boom and a car is barreling down Seventh Avenue hitting people, just, 'Boom! Boom!' And everyone just starts running," Boyce added. "We start running, we don't know if another one is going to come, we don’t know what's happening, everyone is panicking."

Live traffic cameras showed a gigantic emergency response in the area; at least five fire trucks cordoned off the intersection immediately near the scene and a line of police cruises, alarms and lights blaring, blocked off traffic near the TKTS booth. Nearby subway entrances and exits were also shut down.

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