Women Mowed Down by Driver in Times Square Rampage Reunite to Share Their Stories of Terror
Caroline Johns and Gayatri Jariwala are now suing the NYPD and the city of New York.
More than a year after over 20 pedestrians were mowed down by an out-of-control driver in New York City’s Times Square, some of the victims are returning to the horrific scene for the first time.
"I was trying to cross and that's where he got me," Gayatiri Jariwala told Inside Edition. "Within a split second it happened."
Jariwala fractured her pelvis.
"I don't know if I’ll ever be completely recovered,” she said.
Caroline Johns suffered a fractured shoulder, three broken ribs and a punctured lung.
"This is where I worked and I was just walking out of the building when I got hit and the thing I remember is my eye was on the subway grate. I guess when he hit me, I flipped over the car and I landed with my head down there," she recalled.
Ava Elsman, 14, was watching as her sister, Alyssa, lost her life.
"What I went through, I wouldn't wish on anybody," Elsman said.
It started as a day of sightseeing on May 18, 2017, at the “Crossroads of the World,” but it ended in tragedy when the driver hit 18-year-old Alyssa head on.
Alyssa was killed instantly and her sister was dragged by the car and suffered broken ribs, a punctured lung and a severely fractured leg.
"I remember I saw the car turning and my sister's friend was with us at the time and she yelled something and it went black from there and I woke up a little bit later on the sidewalk,” Elsman recalled.
Their father, Tom Elsman, was home in Michigan when he got the worst phone call imaginable from his ex-wife.
"She’s just screaming, 'Alyssa's dead! Alyssa's dead! I think Ava's dead too! Get here now!’ and it just goes silent," he recalled.
He drove 13 hours straight to New York City with his fury directed at the driver, Richard Rojas. Cops said Rojas told them he was high on PCP at the time.
"I said, ‘I’m gonna go kill this guy,’" Tom Elsman said. "I said it, which is not who I am."
Sixteen months later, that anger toward Rojas has not subsided.
"It was a preventable act,” he said. "I just want to make sure this doesn't happen again."
Surveillance cameras captured the entire incident.
The car can be seen moving slowly down 7th Avenue; suddenly, Rojas makes a U-turn, striking pedestrians as they went about their business.
He then sped up the sidewalk for three city blocks in the heart of New York City until finally crashing into a security bollard.
More than 50 million people pass through Times Square every year and now these victims wonder if the carnage could happen again.
The city has installed some protective measures and barriers, but just a few steps away, there's nothing to protect pedestrians.
"This is one of the busiest intersections in the world," Johns said. "It's where I think you would probably want to put up more barricades."
For Alyssa's sister and dad, the emotions are still raw.
"What do you need 15, 20 people to die?" Tom Elsman added. "No! Fix it, fix it now!"
The Elsmans and other victims are suing New York City and the NYPD, saying that in the wake of attacks in other cities, officials were reckless in not installing more and better devices to protect pedestrians.
Rojas has been charged with murder and other charges. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
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