Woman Killed In Times Square Identified As Alyssa Elsman, 18, Of Michigan

UPDATED 05/19/17 12:15 a.m.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The woman who was killed in Times Square by a driver who plowed into pedestrians has been identified.

Alyssa Elsman, 18, was from Portage, Michigan — located directly to the south of Kalamazoo.

Coverage From CBS Affiliate WWMT-TV/Kalamazoo

Elsman’s 13-year-old sister was among 22 others who were injured. Four of victims were initially reported in critical condition. Six others were rushed to Mount Sinai West Hospital, with two in serious condition and four others expected to be treated and released.

NYC Health + Hospitals Bellevue reported two people in serious condition late Thursday afternoon.

Elsman graduated from Portage High School in 2016.

School principal Eric Alburtus described Elsman as “bright, thoughtful, quiet, terrific sense of humor – so when I first heard the story, I glance at my phone real fast, but could not even imagine that it affected one of us.”

“The Elsmans are a very close-knit family and that will be huge in a situation like this,” Elsman’s aunt Shelly Dusek said.

Friends mourned Elsman’s death on social media Thursday night.

“I’m still in shock. All of us friends just hung out last weekend. You’ve always been fund to be around and a great friend,” wrote Justin Thede. “Our friend group will never be the same. We will all miss you, Alyssa Elsman. Rest in peace.”

“I have no words… Just know you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers,” said Tara Ann.

Elsman was attending college and working at a restaurant.

“She was just a great person, and a great friend, and she always was, just made me happy and – she was just a great person all-around,” said Traimaine Carmouche, a friend and coworker.

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Elsman was killed when Richard Rojas, 26, allegedly drove through dozens of pedestrians on the sidewalk in Times Square.

Rojas was charged early Friday with one count of second-degree murder, 20 counts of attempted murder, and five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.

Rojas, a U.S. citizen and Navy veteran, has a criminal record including previous DWIs.

When the crash happened Times Square went from a bustling scene of recreation and pleasure on a hot, summery day to a scene of carnage and horror. In its aftermath, city street corners were turned into triage treatment areas, CBS2’s Lou Young reported.

One woman was seen on the pavement flat on her back – conscious, but hurt.

First responders moved along the scene in both directions. One injured man was spotted being attended to as he sat on a curb, while another was up a gurney and headed to an ambulance shortly after the incident.

NYPD officers, New York state troopers, and people in plain clothes focused on the victims.

One man, Thomas Henry, ended up on the ground. Henry had been playing tour guide for his family members when he was struck by the car and knocked to the ground.

“I could see this dark colored car, and I did not know – I thought it was a dream!” Henry said.

Henry’s nephew, Christopher Beekhary, stood beside him while Beekhary’s wife, Sunita Prasad, clutched their 6- and 3–year-old children.

“God was with me that day, today,” Henry said.

“This is my first time in New York — the first time,” Prasad said.

Beekhary and Prasad are tourists from Guyana, who told CBS2’s Tony Aiello they had just been talking about how amazing Times Square is when Rojas came barreling down the sidewalk.

“It crashed on the pole, and when the car came down, the car came down and hit his head at the same time,” Beekhary said.

“I just run and just pushed the child away, because I don’t want them to get hurt. And then when I turned around, I saw him under the car, and I was like… I don’t know what to do,” Prasad said.

A retired teacher from Brooklyn, William Nelson Sr., was also injured. His son told CBS2 off camera that his father is on a breathing machine.

Nelson’s family was not sure why he was visiting Times Square Thursday, and why he ended up in the path of destruction.

Witnesses told CBS2 it all happened so fast that they never noticed screaming until after the final crash.

“I looked down at my phone for a minute or two and the next thing you know, boom! Like it was like a big old; like a bomb or something; like an explosion,” a witness said.

That was the end of the incident, after Rojas allegedly drove the wrong way three and a half blocks up Seventh Avenue on the sidewalk. The crashed car caught fire upon slamming into a stanchion, and ended up at such a strange angle that it seemed to have left a string of human wreckage – and growing panic in its wake.

“People scattered, running back this way, and then everyone was like just falling; a little like somebody got ran over; somebody got hit,” said witness Max Padillo.

“There was like blood everywhere – really, really terrified,” one witness said.

“There ones who were critical, they were taking them fast, going on their way, and getting out of here as fast as possible,” another witness said.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Dawn Slater says:

    RIP, and condolences to all.

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