A driver who appeared to be intoxicated slammed through a massive crowd celebrating the Endymion parade in Mid-City on Saturday night, injuring at least 28 people including five who were taken to a trauma center in guarded condition, officials said.
[Update: The driver has been identified.]
Stunned bystanders said they watched in horror as a gray truck driven by a young man raced downriver on N. Carrollton Avenue toward its intersection with Orleans Avenue about 6:45 p.m. Saturday before slamming into two vehicles, then veering left into the neutral ground before it came to rest against a large dump truck.
Several people were pinned underneath the dump truck in the aftermath of the crash. Paramedics and civilians raced to help the nearly two dozen injured. None of their injuries appeared to be life-threatening, according to EMS Director Jeffrey Elder.
The driver, who has not been identified, was taken into custody on the scene. Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said that investigators suspect he was intoxicated.
Can't see video below? Click here.
Dana Welch said she was standing in the neutral ground just upriver of the intersection when she spotted the truck speeding downriver.
"I saw him coming and I was like, oh my God, it's going to be a catastrophe," she said. "He sped up and he just went flying, hit those cars."
Twenty-one people were transported to area hospitals Saturday night after a suspected drunk …
Welch called the collision "the worst thing I've ever seen in my life. All I can say is I hope people are praying."
Minutes after the crash, frantic people were anxiously checking the fate of loved ones at the intersection as Endymion rolled by just feet away.
One woman at the scene said the truck whisked by her just feet away as she was walking through the neutral ground at the intersection.
"I actually literally felt it. I felt a rush. It was so fast," said Carrie Kinsella, a freelance photographer for the New Orleans Advocate who was enjoying the parade.
Kinsella said that truck came so close that it pushed her bike against her, scraping her leg.
Greg McNeely said he was on the lake side of the intersection when the massive collission happened. McNeely said he could not see it.
Videos show the aftermath of the scene where a truck plowed into a crowd near Orleans and Ca…
"You heard it. The impact of him hitting the dump truck."
McNeely took a video of the scene afterwards, as people who had narrowly escaped injury walked around in a daze. One man could be seen with blood streaming down his head.
McNeely also watched as the driver of the truck was taken into custody by officers, who were on the scene within seconds.
"He just looked young. Way to be young to be drinking like that," McNeely said. "He looked blasted."
In the aftermath of the crash, the Endymion parade continued to roll just feet from the scene. Drunken onlookers with beers in their hands walked by at the same moment as others raced to the intersection to check on their loved ones.
Police officers canvassed the crowd several times, asking for witnesses to the crash and watching videos taken by onlookers.
Harrison called the aftermath of the crash a "horrific scene."
Elder said that the youngest victim of the crash was a 3 or 4-year-old who was in "very stable" condition. The oldest were in their 30s or 40s.
One police officer was also injured in the crash. Harrison said that he and Mayor Mitch Landrieu had already visited with her in the hospital. She was conscious and talking.
"She was in good spirits but is injured," Harrison said.
Landrieu said that the crash and the earlier shooting incident on the Uptown parade route underscored his call just before Carnival's last days for residents to act responsibly.
"We've had individuals who made really bad decisions today," Landrieu said. "Innocent people were hurt here today."
Asked whether the downriver side of N. Carollton Avenue should have been open to traffic as crowds packed the neutral ground, Landrieu said officials would look into the issue.
"We're going to examine that," Landrieu said.
Eyewitness accounts: http://bit.ly/2lmm8UE