Car plows into Times Square crowd; 1 dead, about 20 injured

Police said Rojas was a resident of the Bronx section of New York City, and that he had been arrested for driving while intoxicated in 2008 and 2015.

"A woman in front on the sidewalk was hit and tossed before then vehicle reached 44th st, continued plowing people down at full speed up to 45th street, where it was stopped after crashing into more people and the light post pictured", posted Instagram user Ed G Val, who "saw the auto speeding north on the west sidewalk of southbound 7th Ave." from across the street.

Rojas was in custody and unable to comment. He was being tested for drugs and alcohol and charges against him were pending.

A auto plowed into pedestrians in the heart of midtown Manhattan's Times Square district around noon Thursday, killing at least one person and injuring more than a dozen, a senior official told NBC News.

Emergency personnel treat a victim after a auto ploughed through a crowd of pedestrians during lunchtime at New York's Times Square, Thursday, May 18, 2017.

"People were being hit and rolling off the vehicle", Josh Duboff, an employee at the Thomson Reuters headquarters, told Reuters.

"He just started running until people tackled him down", he said.

"The vehicle hit the barricade and the power of the barricade backed the auto up", he told at the scene.

People rushed to help the injured, who were lying on the sidewalk.

Authorities say the driver of a vehicle that rammed into pedestrians in New York City's iconic Times Square at lunchtime Thursday was high on a unsafe synthetic form of marijuana called "K2" - also known by the street names "Spice" or "Mr". Four people were critically injured but all were expected to survive. Press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that Trump was briefed before NY authorities confirmed the death.

Rojas initially tested negative for alcohol, but more detailed testing was being done to determine if he was high, according to two law enforcement officials who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Trump is holding a news conference at the White House later Thursday with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

Law enforcement officials said it appears the 26-year-old driver made a wrong turn and drove in the wrong direction for three blocks, striking multiple pedestrians until it crashed in a street corner.

A witness told ABC station WABC-TV that the driver got out of the auto after the crash and ran across the street.

The New York Police Department says the crash does not appear to be terrorism-related.

Scenes of pandemonium erupted on a steaming hot Thursday afternoon as the vehicle slammed into crowds, hit a pole, burst into flames and came to rest at a 45-degree angle on a bollard in the busy tourist spot about noon.

More than 200 of them were installed previous year in partnership with city and Times Square officials to reduce pedestrian injuries and prevent unintentional or terrorist vehicle "incursions", according to bollard maker Calpipe Security Bollards.

  • Larry Hoffman