Times Square driver 'appeared intoxicated'

2017-05-18 19:30
Police secure an are near a car after it plunged into pedestrians in Times Square in New York on May 18, 2017. (AFP)

Police secure an are near a car after it plunged into pedestrians in Times Square in New York on May 18, 2017. (AFP)

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New York - A man drove the wrong way up a Times Square street at lunchtime on Thursday and ploughed into pedestrians on the sidewalk, killing one and injuring about 20 others, a law enforcement official said.

Witnesses told police the driver appeared intoxicated, and he was taken into custody. The 26-year-old man has a history of driving while intoxicated, the law enforcement official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

Police do not suspect a link to terrorism, but the bomb squad has responded as a precaution to check the vehicle.

The maroon-coloured Honda sedan came to rest with two of its wheels in the air, leaning on a lamppost and steel barriers intended to block vehicles from getting onto the sidewalk. Video posted online showed steam or smoke pouring from the car for a few moments after it stopped moving.

Trump aware 

The White House said US President Donald Trump has been "made aware" of the situation in Times Square and will continue to receive updates as the situation unfolds. Press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that Trump was briefed before New York authorities confirmed the death.

New York Gov Andrew Cuomo was at the scene of the crash, and police and city officials were expected there.

The crash happened at midday on a hot, clear day that brought large crowds of people into the streets to enjoy the good weather.

The sidewalks in many parts of Times Square and surrounding blocks are lined with metal posts designed to prevent cars from getting onto the sidewalks and other public areas.

That network of barricades, though, is far from a complete defence. There are many areas where vehicles could be driven onto packed sidewalks or public plazas.

Times Square also has a heavy police presence at all hours of the day and night.


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