A drunk driver has plowed a truck into a crowd of Mardi Gras party goers in New Orleans, injuring 28 people – 5 of whom are in critical condition.
Police say terrorism was not a cause. It was apparently an intoxicated Mardi Gras goer, who remains unnamed while the investigation continues.
The Advocate says, “Stunned bystanders said they watched in horror as a gray truck driven by a young man raced downriver on N. Carrollton Avenue toward its intersection with Orleans Avenue about 6:45 p.m. Saturday before slamming into two vehicles, then veering left into the neutral ground before it came to rest against a large dump truck.”
Those injured range from teenagers to adults, and even some children. Police say the driver seemed to be disoriented and not understand what had happened, which they are attributing to his intoxicated state.
NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said there is no evidence to suspect it was an act of terrorism, instead saying the 26-year-old driver appeared ‘highly intoxicated’.
Victims’ ages range from age three to their forties, according to the New Orleans Advocate. In total, 21 were taken to seven different hospitals throughout the city. Five are in critical condition and are being treated at trauma centers. Seven declined medical treatment.
Valerie, a witness, told DailyMail.com she managed to pull a young boy from a ladder to safety. She said a toddler sustained minor injuries.
One of those injured is a police officer. Her condition is not considered life threatening and she is conscious.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu tweeted: ‘We are grateful that no one suffered any life threatening injuries.’
Greetham posted on Facebook: ‘I am okay, at University and hopped up on pain meds, so the pain is tolerable now. Just waiting for CT and X-ray results.’
A 20-year-old woman told WWL-TV her body felt ‘numb’ hours after almost being slammed into by the drunk driver.
Courtney McGinnis said she dodged out of the way of the truck, narrowly avoiding being hit. She told the TV station: ‘I was standing in the street.’
‘If I didn’t get out of the street, it would’ve hit me.’
‘I just jumped on the neutral ground, on somebody’s table and I just looking for my daddy.’
Witnesses claim the Chevrolet pick up truck veered into the crowd after crashing into two vehicles before striking a dump truck. Several people were reportedly pinned underneath the pickup truck after the accident.
Trey Klechak, a 20-year-old student at Louisiana State University who was at the scene told Nola.com: ‘We heard tires screeching, and we looked to our left and saw a dark grey Chevy 1500 Silverado and it looked like he was swerving in between people that were walking, trying to get to the parade route.’
‘There were bodies flying off the hood while he was still driving.’
‘Luckily there was a dump truck parked on the other side, and luckily when he went up on neutral ground, he slammed into the dump truck’
Witness Greg McNeely told Nola.com: ‘[The driver] took out rows of people.’
About the truck driver, McNeely told the New Orleans Advocate: ‘He just looked young. Way to be young to be drinking like that. He looked blasted.’
One man was arrested at the scene and is being investigated for driving while under the influence. He has not yet been publicly identified. The driver is 26-years-old according to BuzzFeed News.
Parade attendee Carrie Kinsella said: ‘I actually literally felt it. I felt a rush it was so fast.’
The driver did not appear to understand what had happened after the crash and his eyes looked glazed over.
The number of people injured could increase, police said. There are not any reported fatalities at this time.
Harrison told the Advocate: ‘We tell people not to drunk drive. We tell them not to bring guns. We ask people to make good decisions.’
Spectators said the parade paused for about 10 minutes after the crash then continued along the route.
By 9.15pm, the wrecked truck and two cars it crashed into were cleared from the scene and the road reopened to traffic.