Tests show driver in Mardi Gras crash was
legally drunk, police say
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[February 27, 2017]
(Reuters) - A driver accused of
injuring 28 people in New Orleans after plowing a pickup truck into a
crowd watching a Mardi Gras parade had a blood alcohol level nearly
three times the legal limit soon after the crash, police said on Sunday.
The suspect, identified as Neilson Rizzuto, 25, has been charged with
two felony counts in the Saturday evening incident that brought chaos to
one of the main events of the city's signature pre-Lent celebration.
Rizzuto's blood alcohol level was measured at 0.232, well above the 0.08
limit, about two hours after he was taken into custody on Saturday, New
Orleans police spokesman Michael Tidwell said in an email.
Rizzuto was charged with two felony counts of vehicular negligence
injuring in the first degree, hit-and-run driving and the reckless
operation of a motor vehicle, according to a statement earlier on
The truck driven by Rizzuto was traveling on 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 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
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 conference. Local media
reports said 12 people were initially listed as critically injured.
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Neilson Rizzuto, 25, accused of plowing a pickup truck into a crowd
of spectators at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Louisiana is
shown in the booking photo provided February 26, 2017. New Orleans
Parish Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS
A police spokeswoman said it was not certain when the suspect would
make his first court appearance.
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 has occurred."
Last May, a 25-year-old woman with a history of mental illness drove
a car into crowds watching a homecoming parade at Oklahoma State
University, killing four people and injuring more than 40 others.
(Reporting by Catherine Koppel and Frank McGurty in New York and
Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Alan Crosby and Peter
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