Published on : Monday, February 27, 2017
The incident occurred on Saturday night at about 6:45 p.m. at the corner of Orleans and North Carrollton avenues. The intersection was particularly crowded as thousands of spectators lined the streets to watch one of the city’s lively Mardi Gras parades, organized by the Endymion Krewe. None of the injuries were life threatening, although five people were critically injured.
The man accused of driving a truck into the parade crowd had a blood-alcohol level almost three times the legal limit.
The accused Neilson Rizzuto, 25, has been charged with two counts of first degree vehicular negligence resulting in injury and one count each of reckless operation and hit-and-run driving.
According to eyewitness accounts, while spectators rushed the parade floats in their quest for beads, the driver swerved to avoid a truck in front of him and then hit a parked vehicle. In an apparent attempt to flee the scene, the driver stepped on the accelerator and instead of reversing, plowed directly in to the crowd.
The annual parade is marked by its massive floats, many decorated with neon lettering, large and glowing fleurs-de-lis, big video screens and even spotlights shooting into the sky.
The size of the floats allows hundreds of people to ride on some of them, and the riders — some dressed in tuxedos, others wearing masks and costumes — continually toss beads and necklaces to the thick crowd.