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Mardi Gras crash suspect nearly three times the legal limit

The driver said to have ploughed into a crowd at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit, police have said.

The New Orleans Police Department said Neilson Rizzuto, 25, was being held at the city's jail facing charges of first-degree negligent vehicular injuring, hit-and-run driving causing serious injury and reckless operation of a vehicle.

The horrific accident happened on Saturday during one of the busiest nights of Mardi Gras when thousands of people throng the streets of Mid-City to watch the elaborate floats and clamour to catch beads and trinkets tossed from riders.

Twenty-eight people were hurt as the pick-up truck careered into the crowd, 21 of whom were taken to hospital. An additional seven people at the scene declined medical help.

At least three victims remained in hospital overnight with moderate to serious injuries.

The victims' ages ranged from a one-year-old to people in their 50s.

Police say a breath test showed Rizzuto's alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit.

"We suspect that that subject was highly intoxicated," police chief Michael Harrison said on Saturday evening.

Rizzuto's father told WWL-TV that he was still trying to understand what happened and that his son was a "good kid".

John Rizzuto said he spoke with his son several times on Sunday morning and his son said "a stranger gave him a drink off the street and that's the last thing he remembered".

Among the injured was a New Orleans policewoman, who was in "good spirits", Mr Harrison said.

Saturday night's parade was put on by the Krewe of Endymion, which is known for its long, elaborate floats and the big party it hosts at the Superdome after the parade.

AP

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