Taxi Driver Who Hurt 8 Near Red Square Says He Fell Asleep: Police - NECN
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Taxi Driver Who Hurt 8 Near Red Square Says He Fell Asleep: Police

The man said he hadn't slept in 20 hours, and ran away after the accident because he was afraid that angry bystanders would kill him

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    Moscow Traffic Control Center Press Service via AP
    In this image provided by Moscow Traffic Control Center Press Service, ambulance and police work at the site of an incident after a taxi crashed into pedestrians on a sidewalk near Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, June 16, 2018.

    The suspect in a taxi crash near Red Square that injured two Mexican World Cup fans and other pedestrians told interrogators that he fell asleep at the wheel, Moscow police said Sunday.

    City police released a video Sunday of an interrogation session with a man identified as the Kyrgyz taxi driver, in which he says he briefly dozed off and accidentally hit the gas. It was unclear whether the man spoke under duress.

    The man says he hadn't slept in 20 hours and wasn't drunk, and ran away after the accident because he was afraid that angry bystanders would kill him. He was later detained.

    Videos circulating on Russian social media and some news websites after the incident showed the taxi veering onto the sidewalk Saturday and striking pedestrians. The accident took place on Ilinka Street, about 200 meters (650 feet) from Red Square and Moscow's famous GUM shopping arcade, an area popular with tourists.

    Viktoria Geranovich, who works nearby and filmed the fleeing driver on her phone, described her shock at the crash.

    "I called the ambulance right away," she said. "I was trembling. It is not a thing you see every day, when a taxi drives right into the crowd."

    Moscow police would not comment on whether the crash would affect security measures for the World Cup, which is being held in 11 Russian cities over the next month. Among the security concerns has been the possible use of vehicles as weapons.

    A spokeswoman for FIFA told The Associated Press that the World Cup organizers regretted what happened, but referred security questions to Moscow authorities because the crash took place outside stadiums or fan venues. The spokeswoman, who was not authorized to be publicly named, said World Cup organizers were in regular contact with local authorities about security.

    The Mexican Embassy told The Associated Press that the two injured female fans met with embassy representatives and were not hospitalized. The Mexican national soccer team plays against Germany on Sunday in Moscow.

    Details on the other victims weren't immediately released.

    Global soccer fans in Moscow shared information about the crash but didn't appear to let it dampen their enthusiasm.

    "It is pretty horrible that something like that has happened," said Mexican supporter Julio Domingues. But he added, "there are crazy people everywhere."

    Fellow fan Fernando Ibarra said, "We hope our countrymen are OK! Big hug to the families too. Viva Mexico!"