New Orleans police: Driver in deadly crash likely impaired

Two dead, seven injured in New Orleans after car slams into crowd

Officers believe the suspect may have been intoxicated.

The son of a New Orleans police officer  has been charged after crashing his car into a group of people near a parade route Saturday night, killing two people and injuring seven others as large crowds gathered to celebrate Mardi Gras.

Tashonty Toney, 32, was arrested on two counts of vehicular homicide, seven counts of vehicular negligent injury, hit-and-run and reckless operation of a motor vehicle, police said in a news release.

The crash took place along several blocks on a stretch of Esplanade Avenue, a street that connects the city's biggest park with the French Quarter. The scene was close to the route of the Endymion parade, one of New Orleans' largest Mardi Gras parades, which was held Saturday.

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The night of the crash was Toney's 32nd birthday, and police reportedly believe alcohol played a role when he ran into the group of people, most of them riding bikes. As of early Sunday, police were waiting for the results of Toney's blood-alcohol tests, FOX8 reported.

Tashonty Toney, the son of a New Orleans police officer, is believed to have been impaired when he crashed into a group of people on Saturday.
(Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office)

New Orleans Police spokesman Andy Cunningham said in a news release that the fact that Toney's father is a member of the force will not impact the way the department handles its investigation.

“This discovery does not change and will not impact our department’s investigation which will be open and transparent,” Cunningham said.

Two damaged bicycles lay in the street as New Orleans Police Department officers respond to a fatal hit and run accident along Esplanade Avenue in Bayou St. John in New Orleans, Saturday, March 2, 2019.
(Shawn Fink/The Advocate via AP)

New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson told a news conference late Saturday that despite the crash's proximity to the parade route, "we do not believe at this point in time that this has anything to do with the Endymion parade."

New Orleans Police Department officers process a damaged vehicle after responding to a fatal hit and run accident along Esplanade Avenue in Bayou St. John in New Orleans, Saturday, March 2, 2019.
(Shawn Fink/The Advocate via AP)

Ferguson said that Toney initially fled the scene, but police arrested him after bystanders helped to stop him.

"We were able to apprehend the subject so quickly because citizens stopped this individual, because they thought they were helping someone who had just been involved in a one-car accident," Ferguson said.

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Marianne Lightfoot told FOX8 she heard a loud crash and as a first responder, rushed to see if someone was hurt or needed help.

New Orleans Police examine a Chevy Camaro on Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans that struck multiple people, killing several and injuring others, after the Endymion Mardi Gras parade finished passing nearby on Saturday, March 2, 2019.
(Michael DeMocker/NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune via AP)

“The first thing I saw was the man up there that got hit from behind,” Lightfoot said. “I checked with him and he said he was really shaken.”

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EMS spokesman Jonathan Fourcade said a man and a woman — both about 30 years old — were killed. Their identities have yet to be released.

New Orlean Police Department officers process the scene at a fatal hit and run accident along Esplanade Avenue in Bayou St. John in New Orleans, Saturday, March 2, 2019.
(Shawn Fink/The Advocate via AP)

Two 28-year-old women were injured and brought to University Medical Center’s trauma center, in addition to a 53-year-old woman. Two men were also brought to UMC, one is 56 and the other is 62, Fourcade told FOX 8.

EMS Director Emily Nichols said that three of the five people brought to UMC were in critical condition. A 65-year-old man was also injured, but was in stable condition and refused treatment on the scene, Fourcade said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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