Suspected drunk driver injures 28 at New Orleans Mardi Gras parade

By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |  Updated Feb. 26, 2017 at 11:42 AM
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Feb. 26 (UPI) -- New Orleans police released the name of the suspect accused of injuring at least 28 people when he drove into a crowd at the Endymion parade while allegedly intoxicated.

Police Chief Michael Harrison said Neilson Rizzuto, 25, appeared to be "highly intoxicated" when he crashed the pickup truck into two cars about 6:45 p.m. Saturday before plowing into the crowd, causing injuries to at least 28 people, five of which were reported to be seriously injured.

EMS Director Jeffrey Elder said none of the injuries were considered life-threatening.

The pickup truck came to rest when it struck a large dump truck, police said.

Rizzuto was arrested at the scene and booked into jail on two counts of first-degree negligent vehicular injuring, one count of hit-and-run driving causing serious injury and one count of reckless operation of a vehicle.

A total 21 people, ages ranging from 3 to their 40s, were hospitalized with injuries, including a female police officer. Seven people declined transportation to a local hospital.

The parade paused for about 10 minutes after the crash.

Witnesses reported the man was visibly inebriated.

"He just looked young. Way to be young to be drinking like that," witness Greg McNeely told the New Orleans Advocate. "He looked blasted."

Harrison said he and Mayor Mitch Landrieu had been to visit the injured female officer.

"She was in good spirits but is injured," Harrison said.

The Endymion parade is one of New Orleans' most popular, and family friendly, events in the lead-up to Tuesday's Mardi Gras celebrations. It is common for parents to bring their children to watch the parade, which has a budget of $7 million and features 81 floats with a total 3,200 riders.

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