[UPDATE BELOW] The lone fatal victim in yesterday's horrifying multi-injury incident in Times Square was an 18-year-old tourist from Michigan who was visiting Times Square with her mother and 13-year-old sister, according to reports.
Alyssa Elsman, 18, was visiting from Portage, Michigan, a town located south of Kalamazoo. She was a student at a local community college and worked at a Sonic Drive-in. She graduated from Portage Central High School, where the principal described her as, "thoughtful," "bright," and "engaging."
"She was a very loving, loving little girl,” a family member told People. "She looked out for her younger siblings [and] would always play with them."
Elsman was allegedly struck and killed by Richard Rojas, a 26-year-old Bronx resident who police say sped his Honda Accord through several blocks of sidewalk in Times Square at around noon yesterday, injuring a total of 22 people. Rojas was arrested at the scene and has since been charged with murder and attempted murder; police are still trying to determine whether he was under the influence of drugs at the time.
Elsman and her sister Ava were struck on 7th Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets; she had posted a photo of Times Square to her Instagram story just minutes before she was struck. She was pronounced dead at the scene; her sister is listed among the injured, but her condition is unclear.
The Elsmans were planning to leave New York on Tuesday. Elsman's family and friends say they were "heartbroken" to hear of her death. "She was sweet and really laid back," Stacey Vogl, the mother of Elsman’s boyfriend Trevor West, told the Daily News. "She was the one person that brought my son joy." Michigan representative Fred Upton addressed Elsman's death on Facebook:
Though Elsman was yesterday's only fatal victim, at least four people struck are listed in critical condition, and police say 22 people total were injured. One victim, retired Brooklyn teacher William Nelson, is at Bellevue Hospital battling a brain injury and a broken leg, according to relatives. His nephew, Christopher Beekharry, told PIX 11 he was with Nelson when the latter was struck. He said that after the car crashed into "the pole" it "came down and hit his head."
Update 3:15 p.m.: The Post reports that Alyssa Elsman's father had to be treated at Bellevue Hospital after he allegedly threatened to kill Richard Rojas.
The father drove from Portage, Michigan to New York with Elsman's 16-year-old brother overnight, and ending up at the Midtown South police precinct, where he reportedly "began yelling that he wanted to kill" Rojas. He was taken to Bellevue to be calmed down.
Elsman's sister Ava is being treated for a broken leg at Bellevue.