Times Square Driver Was High on Synthetic Marijuana and Tried to Flee Scene

Times Square Driver Was High on Synthetic Marijuana and Tried to Flee Scene

The Bronx native killed an 18-year-old tourist.

Published May 18, 2017

Update 5:12 p.m.:

According to police, Richard Rojas, the man who's car jumped a curb in Times Square and injured 23 pedestrians, killing one, was apparently high on synthetic marijuana, reported ABC 7 New York. 

Although police originally believed Rojas was drinking before the crash, he tested negative for alcohol. However, his drug results did come back positive. Police believe he'd been smoking K2, which is known to cause psychotic episodes, before the crash. After the crash, Rojas jumped up and down in the crosswalk and tried to flee. 

As a result of the crash, an 18-year-old tourist was killed on site. Alyssa Elsman was visiting New York City with her family from Michigan. Elsman's 13-year-old sister was also hit when Rojas drove his car into dozens of pedestrians.

Elsman's boyfriend texted her after he heard news of the accident. 

“She would always text me back as quick as she could and when I didn’t hear from her or her friend, I knew something horrible happened,” Trevor West told the New York Post. “I knew something was wrong.”


A maroon Honda drove onto a sidewalk in Times Square — a popular tourist destination in New York City — and hit several pedestrians. 

An FDNY spokesperson said one woman has died and 23 injuries have been reported on the scene, reported NBC News.

  1. Witnesses at the intersection of 45th street and 7th Avenue posted photos of the aftermath

    According to witnesses on the scene, the speeding car jumped a curb and drove into pedestrians. After the accident, the vehicle began smoking. The incident occurred during the busy lunch hour when Midtown employees and tourists heavily populate the streets.

    The identities of the victims have not yet been revealed. 

  2. New York Police arrested the unidentified driver who is now in custody

    According to New York officials, the preliminary investigation shows this appears to be an accident and is not terror related. 

    New York Law enforcement officials confirmed the FBI is working with the NYPD to investigate the situation, reported NBC News. 

    The driver has been identified as Richard Rojas, 26, of the Bronx, reported New York Daily News

    Rojas has two prior DWI arrests on his record and investigators believe he was driving while intoxicated, according to New York Daily News

  3. Governor Cuomo arrived on the scene and received the latest information from officers
  4. People in the area took pictures of several of the victims (Warning: the images are graphic)
  5. Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted the president has been notified of the situation

    This is a developing story. Please check back with BET News for updates. 

Written by Rachel Herron

(Photo: GARY HE/EPA/REX/Shutterstock)


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