NEW YORK - NEW YORK — Chaos and bloodshed rocked crowded Times Square on Thursday when a car roared the wrong way up a one-way street and slammed into dozens of pedestrians, killing a woman and injuring 22 people, authorities said.
The driver, Richard Rojas, was taken into custody and was tested for alcohol, police said. Photos from the scene showed multiple victims on the ground near the maroon Honda sedan, which came to rest on two wheels, wedged up against a light pole and 3-feet-tall metal "bollard" barriers.
"There is no indication that this was an act of terrorism," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "That being said, we are reinforcing key locations around the city with our anti-terror units of NYPD."
De Blasio lauded the quick efforts of police, fire and emergency medical teams. But he added: "It's a tough day for New York City."
Rojas, 26, is a Bronx resident, U.S. citizen and Navy veteran, the mayor said. NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said Rojas had two prior DUI arrests.
New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said four people were critically injured but were expected to survive. Three other people suffered injuries considered serious, and 15 others "less serious" injuries, he said. Police and fire officials closed off an area of several blocks.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said President Trump was made aware of the incident.
The crash took place shortly before noon. Minutes later, the fire department tweeted: "#FDNY is on scene at 45 St/ Broadway motor vehicle accident. We have reports of pedestrians struck"
Bicycle courier Julio Sanchez Rivera, 20, told USA TODAY he was making his first delivery of the day when he heard a car engine revving. He turned in time to see the car roaring up the street.
"He's easily, probably going over 40 (mph)," Rivera said. "The only thing I see is this poor woman, mid-air, getting hit by a car and the car still going."
The aftermath was "pretty gory," the Queens resident said.
"I saw streaks of, I don’t know if it was blood, I don’t know liquids, but it didn’t seem good," he said. "This poor woman was bleeding from her head, lying down. There were clothes, there were shoes everywhere. It was a pretty scary scene.”
Thoughts and prayers to loved ones and neighbors in the theatre district in light of this morning's car crash. So scary.— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) May 18, 2017
The stainless steel bollards finally stopped the car and the madness. More than 200 of them were installed last year in partnership with city and Times Square officials to reduce pedestrian injuries and prevent unintentional or terrorist vehicle "incursions," according to bollard maker Calpipe Security Bollards.
Thursday was the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures reaching a record of 91 degrees. A block from the scene people were talking about the crash, trying to piece together what happened. But New Yorkers and tourists also continued going about their business, entering shops and walking to and from lunch appointments.
Andrea Stalker, 41, said she doesn't recall ever seeing seeing anything like this tragedy before. From Manhattan, Stalker was at a friend's house nearby when the crash occurred. She doesn't think the incident will change her daily routine.
“I’m the area all the time," she said. "I would be careful, but it’s not going to affect anything.”
The crash drew quick reactions of compassion on Twitter.
"My heart goes out to the family who lost a loved one and those injured in Times Square crash," tweeted Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY. "Thank you to NYFD and NYPD for swift response"
"Thoughts and prayers to loved ones and neighbors in the theatre district in light of this morning's car crash," tweeted Lin-Manuel Miranda, the actor-playwright-composer who created Hamilton. "So scary."
Contributing: Laura Petrecca; Matthew Diebel
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