"It was chaos:" Wisconsin couple witnesses deadly Times Square crash
MADISON, Wis. (WKOW) -
A couple from Sheboygan, Wisconsin was in the middle of Times Square when a car plowed through a crowd, killing an 18-year-old woman and injuring 22 others.
"It was chaos. It was chaos," said both Patrick and Kelly Graves.
The couple saw it all happen as they toured through one of the busiest and most famous places in the world.
"It's just a sad tragedy that it happened to happen right there in front of us or in the general area," Patrick said via Skype with 27 News as he stood just a block away from where the crashed car was still at the scene Thursday afternoon.
The two were visiting New York City while on their 32nd wedding anniversary. They were taking pictures and walking the populated area when they heard the crash.
"We were about 40-feet or 50-feet from the area when we had heard the crash. When we turned around, we saw the automobile up on the pillars," Patrick described.
"We heard people screaming and running from the scene," Kelly added.
But instead of getting out of the area, both of them ran towards the crash.
"Our initial reaction was to go to the site of the accident and see if we could assist. We had seen four people laying on the sidewalk that were being given assistance by other pedestrians," Patrick said.
Police moved them back to safety as the car caught fire.
"The vehicle started to smoke and smolder, underneath, the hood caught fire. We watched the flames come out," he said.
Firefighters were able to douse the flames, but it's a memory the couple will never forget.
"We're doing OK and I'm thankful that it didn't turn out much worse," he said.
The 18-year-old victim, identified as Alyssa Elsman was visiting the city from Michigan. Her 13-year-old sister was among the hurt victims.
Meanwhile, four of the 22 people injured are in critical condition. Three others suffered serious injuries and the other 15 individuals have less serious injuries, according to officials.
The man who was driving the vehicle, Richard Rojas, 26, was arrested after running away from the scene. He was tackled by both civilians and police. Authorities said Rojas does have a criminal history, including two arrests for driving while intoxicated. For the Times Square incident, he tested negative for alcohol consumption but positive for drugs, according to preliminary tests.