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Tests show driver in Mardi Gras crash was legally drunk, police say

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A driver accused of injuring 28 people in New Orleans after plowing a pickup truck into a crowd watching a Mardi Gras parade had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit soon after the crash, police said on Sunday.

The suspect, identified as Neilson Rizzuto, 25, has been charged with two felony counts in the Saturday evening incident that brought chaos to one of the main events of the city’s signature pre-Lent celebration.

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Rizzuto’s blood alcohol level was measured at 0.232, well above the 0.08 limit, about two hours after he was taken into custody on Saturday, New Orleans police spokesman Michael Tidwell said in an email.

Rizzuto was charged with two felony counts of vehicular negligence injuring in the first degree, hit-and-run driving and the reckless operation of a motor vehicle, according to a statement earlier on Sunday.

The truck driven by Rizzuto was traveling on the side of the street open to traffic along the parade route in the Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans when it struck three other vehicles, including a dump truck. It then veered onto the median where a crowd of people stood watching the procession, police said.

Police immediately apprehended the driver, who according to eyewitnesses interviewed by Fox television affiliate WVEU-TV, appeared disheveled, glassy-eyed and under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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In a statement, Mayor Mitch Landrieu referred to the suspect as a “drunk driver.”

Video footage from the scene showed pandemonium immediately following the incident, but the Krewe of Endymion parade, the largest and most popular of numerous Mardi Gras season parades in New Orleans, continued with little or no interruption.

Of the 28 people injured, 21 were taken to local hospitals, including one police officer. Seven others who were hurt declined transport, Police Chief Michael Harrison told a news conference. Local media reports said 12 people were initially listed as critically injured.

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A police spokeswoman said it was not certain when the suspect would make his first court appearance.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation in New Orleans said its agents were “coordinating with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to determine whether a federal violation has occurred.”

Last May, a 25-year-old woman with a history of mental illness drove a car into crowds watching a homecoming parade at Oklahoma State University, killing four people and injuring more than 40 others.

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(Reporting by Catherine Koppel and Frank McGurty in New York and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Alan Crosby and Peter Cooney)

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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As many as 20 corrections officers have been subpoenaed by grand jury investigating Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide

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According to sources interviewed by CNN, as many as 20 correctional officers are being called to testify before the grand jury investigating how Jeffrey Epstein was able to kill himself.

It was reported late Wednesday that there were eight officers who knew to watch Epstein while he was housed in the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Epstein had left "suicide watch" after an alleged suicide attempt, and he was supposed to remain under the watchful eye of officers. However, the officers are overworked and the prison understaffed, requiring officers to work several overtime shifts, the officer's union explained.

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Vegan parents who severely malnourished 10-month-old daughter to the point of bone loss will avoid jail time

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An Australian couple will avoid jail time and instead serve 300 hours of community service after they pled guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life for their 19-month-old daughter, Australian outlet 7News reported this Thursday.

The mother (33) and father (35), who have not been publicly identified for legal reasons, fed their daughter a strict vegan diet that caused the child to become severely malnourished. The child was in such ill health that she weighed just over 10 pounds when authorities discovered her. Additionally, doctors found that due to her strict diet, her bones had not developed properly since she was born and she had yet to grow teeth.

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‘All over the map’: CNN details the bizarre surge of Trump’s flip-flops

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Following two mass shootings in one weekend, President Donald Trump promised to strengthen background checks for gun purchases. But just the next week--reportedly after speaking with NRA head Wayne LaPierre--dropped his resolve and said there were already sufficient background checks on the books.

That's not the only recent policy flip-flop by the President.

On CNN Thursday, White House reporter Sarah Westwood chronicled all the policies on which the president has reversed course. First, the president abruptly cancelled plans to cut foreign aid.

"President Trump, the White House, they were facing a wave of opposition from Congressional appropriators in both parties and from the State Department who thought that this move could do harm to national security," Westwood said.

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