PHOTO: The Endymion Parade, where a truck driver plowed into the crowd, is traditionally a busy parade route during Mardi Gras. (Photo via Flickr/Bart Everson)
Some 28 people were injured after a pickup truck plowed into a group of people celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
The incident occurred last night at about 6:45 p.m. at the corner of Orleans and North Carrollton avenues. The intersection was particularly crowded as thousands of spectators lined the streets to watch one of the city’s lively Mardi Gras parades, organized by the Endymion Krewe. None of the injuries were life-threatening, although five people were critically wounded. Among the injured were a three-year-old child and an on-duty police officer.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu tweeted, “We are grateful that no one suffered any life-threatening injuries.”
According to eyewitness accounts, while spectators rushed the parade floats in their quest for beads, the driver swerved to avoid a truck in front of him and then hit a parked vehicle. In an apparent attempt to flee the scene, the driver stepped on the accelerator and instead of reversing, plowed directly into the crowd.
Gino Ascani, a New Orleans firefighter who was working private security during the parade was quoted by the Times-Picayune as saying people got hit “like bowling pins.”
Ascani, who has been working private security during Mardi Gras for the past five years, has said participants have long complained that it is highly dangerous to allow vehicular traffic on that street during the Mardi Gras parade.
The driver, who police say they suspect “was highly intoxicated,” has been taken into custody. He is being booked with first-degree negligent vehicular injuring, hit-and-run driving causing serious injury and reckless operation of a motor vehicle.