Twenty-one people were injured Saturday night (Feb. 25) when a suspected drunk driver crashed a pickup truck into a crowd at the Krewe of Endymion parade in the Mid-City section of New Orleans, police said. The crash was reported at about 6:45 p.m. at Carrollton and Orleans avenues.
"Initial reports show so far about a dozen people are in critical condition," police spokeswoman Ambria Washington said. "That number could increase as the investigation is ongoing."
Officials later said 28 people, including a police officer, were taken to seven hospitals. Five were in critical condition. Seven declined treatment. The police officer's injuries were not considered life-threatening.
Greg McNeely said he was watching the parade when a pickup truck sped through the intersection. He said he heard three crashes then a fourth loud crash, and saw the truck had come to rest against a garbage bin. Several people were pinned between the truck and the garbage bin or beneath the truck.
A young man was behind the wheel of the truck. "He took out rows of people," McNeely said.
Harrison said the driver was arrested. "We suspect that that subject was highly intoxicated," he said. Mayor Mitch Landrieu said there was not evidence to suggest terrorism.
Another witness, L.A. Morgan of Chicago, said the truck hit several vehicles and people, turned sideways then crashed into the garbage bin. She said she could hear the driver cursing through the truck's open window. Spectators began screaming and running.
"I'm disturbed," Morgan said. "It took the spirit out of the whole event."
The crash came less than five hours after a gunshot wounded a man at the Krewe of Tucks parade, on the Uptown parade route. Police said they think the gun was accidentally fired inside a portable toilet, wounding a man outside, but no immediate arrests were made.
Landrieu said some of the same officer working at the Endymion crash scene had been working at the Tucks shooting. "Obviously you don't want to have a day like this," Landrieu said. "We train year round to respond to events that can't be stopped because of bad decisions."
"We tell people not to drunk drive. We tell them not to bring guns," Harrison said. "We ask people to make good decisions."