Feb 26 A 25-year-old man accused of plowing a
pickup truck into a crowd of spectators at a Mardi Gras parade
in New Orleans was arrested and charged with injuring 28 people
in a crash that brought chaos to the city's signature
celebration, authorities said on Sunday.
New Orleans police booked Neilson Rizzuto after taking him
into custody in "a highly intoxicated state" immediately after
the accident on Saturday evening, the department said.
Rizzuto was charged with two charges of vehicular negligence
injuring in the first degree, hit and run driving and the
reckless operation of a motor vehicle, according to a statement.
No further information about Rizzuto was immediately
The truck driven by Rizzuto was traveling along the side of
the street open to traffic along the parade route in the
Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans when it struck three other
vehicles, including a dump truck. It then veered onto the median
where a crowd of people stood watching the procession, police
Five people were being treated at hospital trauma centers
and an investigation is ongoing, police said.
Police immediately apprehended the driver, who according to
eyewitnesses interviewed by Fox television affiliate WVEU-TV
appeared disheveled, glassy-eyed and under the influence of
drugs or alcohol.
In a statement, Mayor Mitch Landrieu referred to the suspect
as a "drunk driver."
Video footage from the scene showed pandemonium immediately
following the incident, but the Krewe of Endymion parade, the
largest and most popular of numerous Mardi Gras season parades
in New Orleans, continued with little or no interruption.
Of the 28 people injured, 21 were taken to local hospitals,
including one police officer. Seven others who were hurt
declined transport, Police Chief Michael Harrison told a news
Local media reports said 12 people were initially listed as
Harrison said police believed the motorist who was arrested
was "highly intoxicated" and was being questioned at the police
department's drunken-driving office.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation in New Orleans said its
agents were "coordinating with our federal, state and local law
enforcement partners to determine whether a federal violation
The Endymion parade incident was not the only one to mar
Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans on Saturday. Earlier in
the day, someone's gun went off accidentally in a portable
toilet along the route of another, smaller parade, leaving one
person wounded, police said.
(Reporting by Catherine Koppel, Steve Gorman and Frank McGurty
in New York; Editing by Alan Crosby)