What to Know
- Elena Avetisian and her kids were visiting New York from Quebec when she was struck by a car in Times Square
- An 18-year-old woman from Michigan was killed and 21 other people were hurt in the crash
- After the crash, suspect Richard Rojas allegedly told authorities he was high on PCP and wanted to "kill them all"
The family of a Canadian woman who was critically injured in last week’s deadly rampage in Times Square has penned a letter to “thank all New Yorkers for helping us get through these difficult moments.”
Elena Avetisian was visiting New York from Quebec with her three girls to celebrate a relative’s wedding when she was struck by a car allegedly driven by Richard Rojas; she remains in a coma at Bellevue Hospital, where her sister and husband remain at her side, the family said.
“Elena was excited to come to New York and show it to her children,” the letter reads. “The photos they took together in Times Square are our precious moments which are shared together. All of a sudden, our lives turned upside down.”
Police say 26-year-old Rojas plowed through a pedestrian-packed sidewalk for three blocks before hitting a barrier and being subdued by police and passersby.
Rojas told police after his arrest that he had been smoking marijuana laced with the hallucinogenic drug PCP, according to a criminal complaint. He said he wanted to "kill them all" and police should have shot him to stop him, prosecutors said.
Avetisian was one of 22 people injured in the crash, which also killed Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old woman from Portage, Michigan.
A New Jersey high school senior and another person were released from hospitals Tuesday, but five other victims are still hospitalized, including Avetisian, officials said.
Mount Sinai Health System said it released its last patient from the crash Tuesday afternoon. Avetisian is at Bellevue Hospital, where another patient is in serious condition. The hospital didn't release names or details of the victims’ injuries, but prosecutors have said they suffered head injuries, a collapsed lung and a broken pelvis.
“We had so much joy and now our sister is in a coma and there are no words that can ever describe our pain,” the letter from the Avetisian family reads.
“We can only say thank you! Thank you to the City of New York! Thank you to the NYPD for providing us with everything we need to be there for our sister.”
“We only wish that this city will never need to do this again and that there will only be peace here from now on. After all, this city deserves it,” the letter goes on to say.
A GoFundMe page set up by the Avetisian family had nearly reached its goal of $25,000 by Thursday evening.
Rojas was charged with murder and attempted murder, but has not entered a plea. He told the New York Post in a jail interview Saturday that he had recently sought psychiatric help, and that the last thing he remembers Thursday is driving his car before waking up in a police precinct.