Off-duty firefighter says he grabbed Endymion crash driver out of truck

Off-duty firefighter says he grabbed Endymion crash driver out of truck

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - "I worked security for some friends of mine that own a house right there on Carrollton," says Gino Ascani.

Off Duty New Orleans Fire Fighter Gino Ascani says crowds of thousands were enjoying the Endymion parade as it passed near Carrollton and Orleans.

"As I'm watching the parade, they had traffic that was coming through. It's very dangerous right there because Carrollton is open northbound," says Ascani.

Ascani says he watched 25-year-old Neilson Rizzuto become frustrated and attempt to drive around another vehicle when Ascani says he clipped a parked truck, revved his engine and kept going.

"I was amazed that he didn't stop, and then he sped up. When he sped up, he was knocking people to the side and that's when he ran into a car, which hit the other car into a light pole," says Ascani.

Ascani says he could hear the engine revving up again, and at that point, Ascani began running behind Rizzuto's truck.

Police says Rizzuto went up onto the neutral ground, hitting several parade goers, and then crashed into a dump truck on the other side of the street.

"At that particular moment, I just went to the driver's side which happened to be unlocked. When I looked in the car to make sure he didn't have a gun or something like that, because I didn't know what state he was in, he was curled up in the fetal position facing the driver's side window. I could hear the cop screaming, get out of the car, get out of the car. I just reached in and I grabbed him around the collar and I just pulled him to the ground," says Ascani.

Ascani says an NOPD officer ran up and took over, making the arrest.

Ascani says he then, looked up to see the more than two dozen people hurt, scattered around the street and neutral ground.

"There was scrapes and broken bones and blood. It wasn't a horrific scene to my surprise. I expected to see death," says Ascani.

31 people were hurt, including an NOPD officer who suffered shoulder and leg injuries. Ascani says he ran to a nearby ambulance and grabbed a handful of neck braces to apply to the victims.

"EMS had everybody laid out and they were starting to triage everyone with triage tags. As a fireman, we help EMS stabilize the victims. That's our role," says Ascani.

Rizzuto's bond is now set at $420,000. If he's able to bond out, he'll remain on house arrest with an ankle bracelet. He'll also be barred from driving a vehicle.

Copyright 2017 WVUE. All rights reserved.