Endymion parade crash driver pleads guilty to felony charges
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The man accused of driving drunk through an Endymion parade crowd is in court Friday, and he faced those he is accused of injuring in the chaotic accident.
It's been eight months since Nielsen Rizzuto allegedly drove drunk through a crowd at the parade, injuring 28.
Rizzuto was sentenced on 13 misdemeanor charges he pleaded guilty to in September.
He also pleaded guilty to the 11 felony counts he faced of the same charge in court Friday after hearing from five victims.
The misdemeanor charges carry a sentence of up to six months, which would run concurrently. In Rizzuto's case, he would get credit for time he already served.
During Rizzuto's hearing in September, Judge Ben Williard intended to give Rizzuto a six-month sentence for each charge but run the punishment concurrently, making the overall sentence for the 13 counts just six months. However, prosecutors asked Judge Williard to allow the 13 accident victims injured by Rizzuto to make victim impact statements before sentencing, which is expected to happen during the proceedings Friday.
According to police, Rizzuto's blood alcohol level was .232, nearly three times the legal limit at the time of the crash.
Among the 28 injured in the crash was a police officer and a small child, according to New Orleans police. Twenty-one victims were hospitalized, while seven refused treatment.
Four Spring Hill College students were among those injured.
Five victims were being treated at trauma centers. The police officer was in good condition and the child was stable, according to NOPD.
The injured were taken to seven hospitals in 10 ambulances.
The crash happened at about 6:45 p.m. at the corner of Orleans and N. Carrollton avenues.
Police said Rizzuto's truck was speeding down N. Carrollton, traveling in the opposite direction of the parade toward City Park, when he allegedly hit two vehicles. The impact caused one of those vehicles to strike a third vehicle. Police say Rizzuto then lost control and drove over the neutral ground, striking a city dump truck as he plowed into the crowd.
Rizzuto was charged with 26 counts of vehicular negligence.