One person was killed and at least 22 were injured on Thursday when a car careened through Times Square in and plowed through a crowd of pedestrians in one of New York City’s most congested corridors, officials said.
The 26-year-old driver appeared to have been either drunk or impaired by drugs and had been arrested twice for drunken driving, officials said. The preliminary evidence indicated that the episode was not terrorism-related, officials said.
“Based on information we have at this moment, there is no indiciation that this was an act of terrorism,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Thursday afternoon in Times Square.
The conditions of the injured victims was not known.
Witnesses described the horror of seeing the car traveling at high speeds through the neighborhood, which was packed with tourists, workers and many others on a sultry afternoon, and the mayhem in one of the world’s busiest and most famous plazas immediately evoked fears that it had been a deliberate act.
Annie Donahey, 24, had just left work on Seventh Avenue between 42nd and 43rd streets when the car, a maroon Honda, sped past her and slammed into pedestrians on the sidewalk.
“It was going at a fast rate of speed and to me it looked it was trying to hit as many people as possible,” she said. “People were trying to jump out of the way.”
The exact route traveled by the car was not immediately known before it came to rest at the northwest corner of 45th Street and Broadway. The Honda sat tilted on bollards, its right wheels off the ground, its front hood crumpled and trunk open, as detectives and investigators canvassed the area.
A few blocks away, Sharif White, who sells T-shirts and hats on the corner of 44th Street and 7th Avenue, stood next to the body of a woman on her back on the sidewalk, who was surrounded by paramedics.
“It hit her,” he said, pointing to the woman. “And it hit a couple of other people. Then the next thing I know it went straight down to 45th. It just was doing like about 100 miles per hour and then the car crashed.”
The car’s bumper sat on 44th Street and 7th Avenue in the middle of the sidewalk.
Magdy Tawfik, a hot dog vendor near the corner, said the car had struck three people there.
“The car sped through here, it was moving so fast, and it crushed all these people,” he said
A Police Department spokesman said the driver of the car had been taken into custody. The law enforcement official said the driver was from the Bronx. The police had taped off many of blocks around Times Square.
What’s happening in Times Square?? This car was in the sidewalk and people are on the streets pic.twitter.com/PsepRtfrAr