At least 28 people were injured after a truck driven by a possible drunk driver crashed into an Endymion parade crowd in New Orleans that was part of Mardi Gras festivities.
However, the mayor later reported that there were no life-threatening injuries and posted this photo of the clean up on Twitter. Although the crash initially seemed to mirror the method used by terrorists in Europe who plowed into crowds in public places, authorities in New Orleans said they suspect alcohol, not terrorism.
The mayor referred to the as yet publicly unidentified suspect as a “drunk driver.” Fox News quoted the police chief as saying, “…it appears it was a subject who was highly intoxicated who struck a number of vehicles and veered off hitting a number of innocent people.” According to Fox News, a government source told the network “that the suspect was intoxicated and was shouting ‘kill me’ as he was being taken away.”
The Advocate reported that the victims ranged in age from a toddler to a person in their 30s or 40s and quoted the police superintendent as calling the scene “horrific.” Those transported to an area trauma center were in guarded condition, the newspaper reported. A police officer was among the injured.
You can watch a live stream from television station WVUE-TV at the top of this story as it originally ran. Here’s more raw video below from a local TV station. Be aware that some imagery could be disturbing.
Initial reports were even more dire; New Orleans media reported that 12 people were in critical condition. However, the number injured later grew, but the seriousness of the injuries thankfully diminished. Fox 8 New Orleans reported that the FBI was looking into the incident, quoting the bureau as saying, “We are currently coordinating with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to determine whether a federal violation has occurred.”
The New Orleans Advocate newspaper reported the mass tragedy occurred at Orleans and Carrollton during the Endymion parade. The police officer injured was awake and talking at a hospital, according to The Advocate.
Police and eyewitnesses described the pickup truck careening into the crowd after striking another vehicle along the parade route. Some people may have been trapped under the truck and a car it hit. NOLA.com quoted an eyewitness as saying of the driver: “It seemed like he got pissed off because all of a sudden he slammed the gas and his back tires started and it seemed like his foot never left the gas pedal.” The newspaper also quoted an eyewitness as saying bodies were “flying off the hood while he was still driving” but a dump truck obstructed the truck from causing further harm.
According to CNN, Police Chief Michael Harrison said “it appeared the suspect, who was driving a pickup truck that hit two cars before running into the crowd, was likely highly intoxicated.”
The Advocate reported that an eyewitness at the scene “said a silver truck whisked by her just feet away as she was walking through the neutral ground at intersection.” The newspaper quoted the woman as saying, “I actually literally felt it. I felt a rush it was so fast,” adding that the truck hit a “white Chevrolet Malibu, sending it into a utility pole.” Another eyewitness told the newspaper that the driver seemed “just kind of out of it.”
One tweet from a videographer said, “@NOPDNews @WWLTV Black truck hit a white car spun out of control rammed into a bus or a trailer.”
The New Orleans Police Department confirmed on Twitter that “a vehicle ran into a crowd of people at the Orleans and Carrollton.”
The Advocate reported that people frantically searched for loved ones at the scene.
The Endymion parade is part of the New Orleans’ famed Mardi Gras celebrations. According to NOLA Curbed, the Endymion parade is one of a series of parades during Mardi Gras festivities. The site wrote, “Throughout the next couple of days, some of the largest krewes—a.k.a super krewes—are expected to roll through the city, including Bacchus, Endymion and Orpheus.”
An eyewitness told NOLA.com that “he heard three crashes then a fourth loud crash, and saw the truck had come to rest against a garbage bin. Several people, including a police officer, were pinned between the truck and the garbage bin or beneath the truck.” The eyewitness told the newspaper of the driver, “He took out rows of people.”
This post will be updated as more details come in.