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Times Square vehicle crash driver, a US Navy veteran who "heard voices"


Alyssa Elsman an 18 year old MI tourist has been identified as the woman who was fatally struck by 26 year old Bronx driver, Richard Rojas, Wednesday lunchtime as he drove down wrong way along NYC's West 43rd st in Times Square.

A auto ploughed into a crowd of pedestrians in New York's Times Square on Thursday, leaving a young woman dead and injuring at least 22 other people in what officials said was an accident.

Police identified the woman killed by the auto as Alyssa Elsman, of Portage, Michigan.

Rojas told the officers he beat the cab driver because the driver said he owed him $162 and disrespected him.

The vehicle was a red Honda sedan and CBS New York Television said the driver had been removed.

There is no indication that the incident in Times Square, which unfolded just before noon, was an act of terrorism, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and other officials said. It is being investigated as an accident, a police official said.

Witnesses said the motorist had driven against traffic and onto the sidewalk, striking pedestrians. Four of them are in critical condition, three are in serious condition - and all are expected to survive.

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Dramatic video shows an eerily empty Times Square after a speeding driver plowed into pedestrians and crashed into a pole causing the vehicle to catch fire.

Witnesses described a harrowing scene that started with screeching tires and ended with screams, chaos and a fiery crash at one of the world's most visited sites.

"He was swinging his arms at the same time", said Ken Bradix, a security supervisor at a nearby Planet Hollywood restaurant who tackled him.

The sidewalks in many parts of Times Square and surrounding blocks are lined with metal posts created to prevent cars from getting onto the sidewalks and other public areas. "I didn't know what was going on. I was scared for my life".

An injured pedestrian told Reuters that the driver, who was taken into custody following the incident, appeared to have intentionally mowed down the pedestrians.

After she heard the news, Dusek posted a message on Facebook. An 18-year-old tourist from MI was killed.

A Reuters picture showed a woman lying on the sidewalk with her face covered with a white sheet.

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"I'm shaken", said Long, who wasn't injured.

"I felt so bad. standing there", not being able to do anything more to help, she said.

Proehl was hit by a piece of gravel but otherwise was not injured, she said. "She said Rojas" family is Dominican and that his mother is a "sweetheart" who sometimes makes food or coffee for the beauty salon's workers. "We initially thought they were filming something".

"He's been going through a real tough time", he said.

She graduated from Portage Central High School.

"Alyssa was a really thoughtful, really bright, very pleasant young lady".

"Alyssa was the type of person who seemed very shy and reserved when you first met her, but once you started talking to her you realized she was smart, amusing and engaging", principal Eric Alburtus said in a statement.

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