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'Highly Intoxicated' Driver Plows Into Mardi Gras Crowd, Injuring At Least 28

By Colin Dwyer | NPR
Sunday, February 26, 2017

At least 28 people were injured — 21 of whom have been hospitalized — after a man driving a pickup truck plowed into a crowd of spectators Saturday night at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans.

The city's mayor, Mitch Landrieu, said none of the victims had sustained a life-threatening injury in the wreck, which both he and police are calling a drunken-driving incident.

A 3-year-old child and a police officer are among the people hospitalized.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," Landrieu said in a statement released by the New Orleans Police Department. "We are grateful that none of the injuries appear to be life-threatening. I want to thank all of our emergency personnel for responding quickly, aiding the injured, and apprehending the drunk driver."

Police said the incident occurred around 6:42 p.m., local time, when the driver first slammed into two vehicles, sending one of them into a third. He then drove onto the median, hitting multiple pedestrians and eventually careening into a city dump truck.

The route had been packed with thousands of people "camped out for days for a spot" near the Krewe of Endymion, one of Mardi Gras' largest parades, reports Eileen Fleming of member station WWNO.

"We heard tires screeching, and we looked to our left and saw a dark grey Chevy 1500 Silverado and it looked like he was swerving in between people that were walking, trying to get to the parade route," witness Trey Klechak told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "It seemed like he got pissed off because all of a sudden he slammed the gas and his back tires started and it seemed like his foot never left the gas pedal."

"I thought it was the most surreal thing I've ever seen," another witness, Lawrence Cohen, told WWNO's Tegan Wendland. "Because you just saw people scattering and you knew he went into the crowd. And then it was just, how many people are gonna get hurt and killed?"

Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said they believe the suspect was "highly intoxicated," according to the Times-Picayune.

Authorities say there is no evidence suggesting terrorism.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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