28 people were injured when a truck driven by a drunk driver plowed into people at the Endymion Parade, New Orleans’ largest parade of Mardi Gras.
Police have identified the culprit as 25-year-old Nielson Rizzuto, who was arrested. Of the 28 people injured, five are considered to be in critical condition while seven declined medical treatment. Everyone from a three-year-old boy, who is in stable condition, to a person in their forties was physically affected by the incident, which took place at around 6:45 pm Saturday on the corner of Orleans and North Carrollton avenues.
Authorities say Rizzuto appeared to have been “highly intoxicated” after he was found at the scene. They don’t believe terrorism had anything to do with the crash, which they describe as Rizzuto driving through the crowd initially trying to weave around people, before accelerating through the masses and sending “bodies flying off the hood” of his Chevrolet.
20-year-old Courtney McGinnis was at the parade and was nearly hit by Rizzuto. She told WWL-TV that her body felt “numb” hours after she was almost hit by the madman.
“If I didn't get out of the street, it would've hit me,” she described. “I just jumped on the neutral ground, on somebody's table and I was just looking for my daddy.” Eventually Rizzuto’s truck, after veering into the crowd, hit two cars before slamming into a dump truck, ending the horrific incident.
According to NOLA Mayor Mitch Landrieu, there were miraculously no life threatening injuries from the crash.
Nielson Rizzuto could be facing federal charges for his antics. The FBI said Saturday night they are classifying this as a “mass casualty incident.”
“The FBI New Orleans Division is aware of the mass casualty incident that happened along the Endymion Mardi Gras parade route this evening in New Orleans,” a statement from the bureau reads. “We are currently coordinating with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to determine whether a federal violation has occurred.”
Watch video of the aftermath of the scene captured by WVUE and others as well as pictures captured and placed on social media below.
UPDATE: 28 now hurt by car crash into into crowd at parade Mardi Gras In New Orleans parade; 1 Male in custody; Police say DWI suspected pic.twitter.com/G6eDuaO1NP— Brandi Saari (@brandilmelb) February 26, 2017
(Photo: The Advocate)