News Orleans police say that two people have been killed by a vehicle that crashed into a group of bicyclists along Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana, leaving victims strewn across a three-block area.
“We have had a double fatality,” police said in a news conference. “We received calls of bicyclists struck in the Esplanade corridor…(authorities) were able to apprehend the suspect.” Police said the injured stretched from the 3400 to 3200 block of Esplanade. Eight people were struck overall, police said. Two were killed, and five people are in the hospital, with another victim refusing treatment.
The names of the victims and suspect were not yet released. The deceased were described as a man and a woman, both age 30.
The tragedy was described by authorities as a “complex incident that spanned almost three blocks.” Three of the five wounded people taken to the hospital were in critical condition, police said. Police said that reports the driver appeared intoxicated or might have been speeding were under investigation and could not be confirmed.
Police weren’t sure if all eight people wounded were on bicycles at the time, but most of the victims were traveling that way. “Citizens stopped this individual,” police said of the suspect. They thought the suspect had been involved in a one-car accident at first, authorities said of the citizens who intervened. However, authorities quickly determined the suspect was allegedly the person responsible for the bicyclists being struck, police said.
News of the incident broke in the evening hours of March 2, 2019. “The #NOPD is investigating a traffic fatality in the 3200 block of Esplanade Avenue. Initial reports show two victims were struck by a vehicle at the location. The victims were pronounced dead on scene by EMS. #NOPDalert,” the police initially wrote on Twitter.
Bicycles were seen lying at the scene.
“UPDATE: NOPD officers have arrested a suspect in connection with this incident. #NOPDalert.” NOLA Ready wrote, “@NewOrleansEMS is working multiple injuries after vehicle hit pedestrians. Please continue to avoid the area and clear the way for emergency vehicles.”
Here’s what you need to know:
A Witness Described the Driver’s Alleged State
The motive was not yet clear; however, The Advocate reported that one witness allegedly saw the driver, estimated to be in his 20s, jump shirtless out of the car, run to a corner, and then lay “down on the sidewalk, and lost consciousness.” A cyclist chased the driver, according to Advocate, which added that the driver allegedly claimed his father was a police officer. It’s not clear whether that’s true.
The witness told the Advocate that the driver allegedly appeared extremely intoxicated. Cyclist Frank Rourk used the phrase “blind drunk” in an interview with the news site, which added that another witness said the two people down were lying near bicycles.
“⚠️Public safety incident on Esplanade Ave. in the Bayou St. John neighborhood. @nopdnews is on scene. Please avoid the area,” NOLA Ready wrote on Twitter.
According to NOLA.com, the incident came as the “Krewe of Endymion was rolling through Mid-City in its annual Mardi Gras parade.” However, police said they don’t think the tragedy had anything to do with the parade.
“Feel so sad about the people killed and injured on Esplanade, and for their families,” one woman wrote on Twitter as news broke.
This post will be updated as more is learned about the incident.