Driver who hit 28 in Mardi Gras parade was drunk, police say

The man plowed into a New Orleans street parade famous for its floats and family-friendly atmosphere.

Gerald Herbert/AP
Police near the truck that hit a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans on Saturday.

Authorities on Sunday identified the man who allegedly plowed into a crowd enjoying a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans while intoxicated.

The New Orleans Police Department issued a statement identifying the man as 25-year-old Neilson Rizzuto. Online jail records showed Rizzuto was arrested on a number of charges and was being held at the city's jail.

The accident happened Saturday during one of the busiest nights of Mardi Gras when thousands of people throng the streets of Mid-City to watch the elaborate floats and clamor to catch beads and trinkets tossed from riders.

"We suspect that that subject was highly intoxicated," Police Chief Michael Harrison had said on Saturday evening.

Harrison was asked by the media if terrorism was suspected. While he didn't say "No," he did say it looks like a case of DWI.

Twenty-one people were hospitalized after the crash with five victims taken to the trauma center in guarded condition. However, their conditions did not seem to be life-threatening, said Dr. Jeff Elder, city emergency services director.

Seven others declined to be hospitalized, he said.

The victims range in age from as young as 3 or 4 to adults in their 30s and 40s, Elder said.

Among the injured was one New Orleans police officer. Harrison said the officer, who was on duty, was undergoing tests to determine the extent of her injuries. She was in "good spirits," he said.

As police and city officials assessed the accident scene, people streamed home as plastic bags that used to hold trinkets and discarded beads littered the ground.

Saturday night's parade was put on by the Krewe of Endymion, which is known for its long, elaborate floats and the big party it hosts at the Superdome after the parade.

One woman at the scene told The New Orleans Advocate (http://bit.ly/2miOHGP) that a silver truck whisked closely by her as she was walking through the intersection.

Carrie Kinsella said, "I felt a rush it was so fast."

Kourtney McKinnis, 20, told the Advocate that the driver of the truck seemed almost unaware of what he had just done.

"He was just kind of out of it," she said.

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