New Orleans police were awaiting the results of a blood alcohol test Sunday on a driver whose car rammed into bicyclists and pedestrians – killing two and injuring seven – just blocks from one of the city’s most extravagant and beloved Mardi Gras parades.
The suspect was identified as Tashonty Toney, 32, and was believed to have been impaired at the time of the incident Saturday night, police spokesman Andy Cunningham said in a statement. Toney, who was arrested at the scene, is the son of a New Orleans police officer and his birthday was Saturday, he said.
Toney faces two counts of vehicular homicide, seven counts of vehicular negligent injury, hit and run and reckless operation, the department tweeted.
EMS spokesman Jonathan Fourcade said a man and a woman, both about 30, were killed. Three of the injured were in critical condition, EMS Director Emily Nichols told WVUE-TV.
Witnesses described a speeding dark sports car that was attempting to pass another vehicle when it swerved into a bike lane and spun out on the median.
Cyclist Frank Rourk told The New Orleans Advocate he saw the suspect jump out of his car without a shirt after the crash, run to the corner and lie down on the sidewalk.
Rourk said he and two other people were able to rouse the driver, who apparently had lost consciousness. Rourk, who said he initially didn’t realize anyone was struck, told the driver: “I’m pretty sure you’re the guy who wrecked the car. You better go back there.” The driver then asked whether he had killed anyone, he said.
Another witness, Dane Barrymore, told the Advocate he was smoking a cigarette outside a market when the car flew by and careened into the bike lane, striking two women and one man. “It just happened there were people there – bicyclists,” he said.
Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson credited bystanders for stopping the driver.
“We were able to apprehend the subject so quickly because citizens stopped this individual because they thought they were helping someone who had just been involved in a one-car accident,” Ferguson said.
The incident along historic Esplanade Avenue – a quaint stretch still dotted with 19th-century mansions that runs through the heart of the city – took place after the superkrewe Endymion’s parade rolled through nearby streets. With 3,000 riders and 37 floats, Endymion is the city’s biggest parade leading up to Mardi Gras on Tuesday.
The crash also comes two years after a driver slammed a pickup into a crowd watching the Endymion parade, injuring 32 people.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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