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Driver Hits Multiple People on Times Square Sidewalk: 1 Dead, 22 Injured

1:02 PM EDT on May 18, 2017

Image: CBS

Late this morning, a motorist drove onto a Times Square sidewalk and hit multiple people.

Twenty-two people were injured and one was killed, Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill said at a press conference this afternoon.

The deceased victim was an 18-year-old woman. She was walking with her 13-year-old sister, who was also struck.

O’Neill said the suspect was driving a 2009 Honda southbound on Seventh Avenue at 11:55 a.m. before making a U-turn at 42nd Street. He then drove on the sidewalk from 42nd to 45th Street, hitting people along the way. The driver came to a stop after striking bollards at Broadway and W. 45th Street. He was tackled by a witness as he tried to run away from the scene.

Of the 22 injured, four victims were transported to hospitals in critical condition. They were not considered “likely to die.” Three were in serious condition.

Police took Richard Rojas, 26, in custody at the scene. NY1 reported that Rojas, a Bronx resident, was arrested for drunk driving in Queens in 2008, and again in Manhattan in 2015. It is unknown whether Rojas has a valid drivers license. During the press conference, O’Neill said Rojas was being tested for impairment and questioned by police.

News of the crash appeared on Twitter at around noon. Photos showed the smoking car mounted on bollards at Broadway and W. 45th Street.

Journalist David Shuster tweeted that buildings in the area were on lockdown, but CBS reported not long after the crash that NYPD did not suspect a terror attack. Video posted on Instagram and later removed showed police leading a man in handcuffs to an NYPD vehicle.

Governor Cuomo was on the scene about a half-hour after the crash.

Pedestrian injuries dropped 40 percent after DOT redesigned Times Square under former mayor Michael Bloomberg. Without bollards and other measures to make walking safer, it appears this crash could have been worse.

As horrific as today's crash was, it is not unusual for drivers to maim and kill people on NYC sidewalks. Before today, NYC drivers had killed no fewer than 49 people on sidewalks and in buildings since 2012, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to include more details about the crash.]

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