NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - We now know the full extent of injuries from the suspected drunk driving crash on the Endymion parade route, and how a national organization is reaching out to help those victims.
It was chaotic at the corner of Orleans and North Carrollton as first responders leaped into action to help the 32 people struck as Endymion rolled by Feb. 25. Twenty-three people went to the hospital, including a 19-month-old New Orleans girl with scratches to her face and an 8-year-old Avondale boy with back and knee injuries.
Valerie Cox of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said their physical injuries could pale in comparison to the mental injuries.
"This is going to be a nightmare for them, and they are going to probably have dreams, and we can refer them to different councilors to be able to maybe help them work through this. Their lives are maybe never going to be the same," Cox said.
The most serious injuries included lacerated livers and internal abdominal injuries. A 16-year-old New Orleans teen reported back and neck strain. Police report at least two of the victims are still in the hospital.
Cox wants the victims to know they can get help through MADD.
"We can sit with them in court and explain the court system, because many of these victims have never even been in a courtroom," she said.
Eight of the people hit were tourists from as far away as California and Michigan with another visiting from Alexandria.
"If there were victims in another state, we can get them in contact with a MADD advocate in that state and we just ask them to reach out to us, and we are going to be working with them to make sure that this alleged driver is prosecuted to the fullest," Cox said.
The group said all the services are provided free of charge.
Police said 25-year-old Neilson Rizzuto is responsible for the crash. Records show his blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit. He remains behind bars with a $545,000 on 24 charges, including reckless operation of a vehicle; hit-and-run driving with serious injury; 12 counts of vehicular negligent injury and 10 counts of first-degree negligent injury.
MADD also wants people to know that you don't have to be a victim or know someone injured or killed by an impaired driver to join their fight. Anyone who wants to get involved or any victims who would like assistance can reach the local MADD office in Baton Rouge at (225) 926-0807.