The annual Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans faced untimely desolation yesterday after a drunk driver injured 28 people.
Police arrested one man after he drove his pickup truck through a large crowd at the Krewe of Endymion parade on Feb. 25. After hitting two other vehicles, he injured at least 28 people, included a three-year-old toddler. Additionally, five of the injuries were serious. However, none were life-threatening.
Police Chief Michael Harrison said the driver, 25-year-old Neilson Rizzuto, was highly intoxicated at the time of the incident. Officials said that Rizzuto had a blood alcohol level of .232, which is almost three times the legal limit.
“It appears that it’s a subject who was highly intoxicated who struck a number of vehicles and then veered off, hitting a whole bunch of innocent people,” Harrison said.
Accordingly, police charged Rizzuto with two counts of first-degree vehicular negligence resulting in injury. They also charged him with one count per victim of reckless operation and hit-and-run driving.
Witness said Rizzuto drove down one of the nearby streets before hitting cars on the intersection of Orleans and Carrollton Avenues.
“I saw the gray truck flying down Carrollton Avenue,” one witness said. “He sped up and he lost control and you could see the truck was getting ready to turn and I knew he was going to run into all those people.”
The incident left 21 victims hospitalized, including one female police officer. Seven other injured citizens declined medical transportation after the incident.
New Orleans officials hold the Krewe of Endymion parade in the Mid-City neighborhood. It includes three dozen floats, some of them with multiple levels. Furthermore, NOLA.com reports that it is the only parade that has a route from Mid-City to downtown New Orleans.
“With 81 floats, 3,200 riders, and a budget of $7 million, Endymion is the largest Mardi Gras parade,” the site says.
Mardi Gras is an annual celebration that people primarily celebrate in New Orleans. The event consists of parades, parties masks, and costumes and dates back thousands of years.