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Multiple casualties after pedestrians struck by U-Haul truck in NYC, foul play suspected

By Sarah May
|
February 15, 2023

In a shocking mass casualty scene out of New York City on Monday, a man driving a U-Haul truck plowed into a number of pedestrians, cyclists, as well as a responding police officer, and as Councilman Justin Brannan noted in the immediate aftermath of the event, “this wasn't an accident,” as the Daily Wire reported.

Sadly, the driver of the truck ultimately took the life of one of those mowed down by the moving vehicle, and another eight were left injured, most of whom are believed likely to recover, according to CBS News.

Harrowing scene

A report from the local NBC affiliate in New York indicated that the incident began to unfold around 10:17 a.m., when the U-Haul driver identified as Weng Sor, 62, hit a man near 4th Avenue and 55th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

The vehicle continued on its destructive path, subsequently striking a number of other individuals at various locations along the way and sending them to the hospital for emergency treatment.

When the truck reached the area near 72nd Street and 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge, the driver rammed into a police officer and another man, and the final victim – a 66-year-old man – was hit one block away, at 73rd Street and 3rd Avenue.

All in all, nine individuals were hit by the errant vehicle, one was killed, another was left in critical condition, and the rest sustained a range of injuries to the head, chest, and extremities that included lacerations and bruising.

Driver arrested

At roughly 11:30 a.m., officers with the NYPD managed to surround the truck, which bore Arizona license plates, at a corner near Red Hook and Carroll Gardens, and they brought the driver into custody without further difficulty.

As the New York Post noted, James Essig, NYPD chief of detectives, indicated that Sor told officers that he saw an “invisible object” while driving, at which point he said to himself, “I've had enough” and began plowing into anyone in his path.

It was later reported that while being placed under arrest, the driver told officers that he had hoped to die as a result of the rampage.

According to The Post, Sor “who has a lengthy rap sheet in Nevada and a history of mental illness — was out to commit suicide by cop.” The NYPD chief said of Sor, “He does say to the police when he’s arrested, ‘You should have shot me.’”

Mental illness blamed

Further elaborating on the incident, Essig stated, “Based on interviews with his family members and confirmed when interrogated by members of the New York City detective bureau, we believe Mr. Sor was suffering from a mental health crisis. At this time, there is no nexus to terrorism,” as Fox News reported.

The outlet further noted that family members of the driver told law enforcement officers that Sor was indeed non-compliant with medications prescribed for his mental health conditions,

As the Post reported, just five days prior to the event, Sor was stopped by police for reckless driving as well as marijuana possession as he made his way through South Carolina on his way to New York.

Upon his arrival in the Big Apple, Sor paid a visit to his son in Brooklyn, whereupon the two were involved in an altercation, after which he was again pulled over for speeding, adding to a prior history of run-ins with law enforcement that included nine prior arrests for things such as DWI, resisting arrest, domestic battery, evading a police officer, and more.

Heavy toll detailed

Killed during Sor's reckless spree was father of three, Yijie Ye, 44, who came to the United States from China 18 years ago to improve life for himself and his family members.

A cousin of Ye's declared, “Unfortunately, this tragic accident shattered their American dream and our family members are heartbroken by his death.”

Tragically, according to the Post, 36-year-old Mohammed Salah Rakch, a married father of two, also suffered injuries so serious that he was placed in a medically induced coma and reported earlier this week to be in critical, but stable condition.

Said to have been on his way to have his taxes done when he was rammed by Sor, Rakch was described as a “really good person, a good father, a lovely husband” by his wife, Nadjet Tchenar, who added, “I don't have words to describe my feelings now.”