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. Police in Moscow say at least seven people have been injured when a taxi crashed into pedestrians on a sidewalk near Red Square. (Moscow Traffic Control Center Press Service via AP)

Police: Taxi driver who hit 8 Moscow pedestrians fell asleep

Two Mexican World Cup fans were among those hit

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

The police released a video of an interrogation session with a man the Moscow force identified as the taxi driver. In the recording, he says he briefly dozed off and accidentally hit the gas. It was unclear whether the man spoke under duress.

The man in the video 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.

The Moscow city traffic authority identified the driver as 28-year-old Chyngyz Anarbek, who is from Kyrgyzstan.

Speaking to The Associated Press from the town of Muras Ordo in Kyrgyzstan, Anarbek’s older brother said only had been working as a taxi driver for a month. He said his sibling was in “stress, shock, horror” after what happened.

“Let people say what they want, but my brother is clean, not guilty. He was never and could never be a terrorist,” Almazbek Anarbek said.

The younger Anarbek won a bronze medal last year in the world championship of Pankration, an ancient sport combining skills of boxing and wrestling

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 metres (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.

“I called the ambulance right away,” she told The Associated Press. “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 soccer’s 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.

Russia has also been working with law enforcement from other countries to secure the tournament.

“The sense we are getting is that (the taxi crash) is not football-related,” Mark Roberts, head of U.K. soccer policing, told the AP. “At the moment, everything we are being told is that it was just a run-of-the-mill event.”

A spokeswoman for FIFA told The Associated Press that 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 on security.

The Mexican Embassy said 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.

The head of the Moscow health department, Alexei Khripun, was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency as saying the other injured people were in satisfactory condition. Three Russians remained hospitalized Sunday, but were expected to be discharged in coming days, Khripun said.

International 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!”

___

Altynai Sagydykova in Kyrgyzstan, Rob Harris in Volgograd and Amer Cohadzic in Moscow contributed.

Angela Charlton, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fire at Cultus Lake closes the road

Vehicle fire caused column of black smoke to billow over the lake

Fraser Valley coach keeps coming back to guide kids at the BC Summer Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Man arrested in Maple Ridge in connection with Victoria-area murder

Daniel Creagh faces second-degree murder charge in death of Joseph Gauthier

Hot weather returning to Chilliwack

Temperatures expected to climb into the low 30s starting Sunday

UPDATE: Abbotsford police seek info from public after man, 32, found dead

IHIT identifies victim as Sukhpreet Grewal, who they say was known to police

BC Games: Day 3 wrap and closing ceremonies

The torch in the Cowichan Valley has been extinguished as Fort St. John gets ready to host the 2020 BC Winter Games

Police confirm girl, 8 others injured in Toronto shooting; shooter dead

Paramedics said many of the victims in Danforth, including a child, were rushed to trauma centres

Gold medallists at BC Games only trained together for 1 day

Ryan Goudron, Nathan Chan, Owen Pinto and Praise Aniamaka from Zone 4 - Fraser River ran together for the first time

Five taken to hospital after one of two Coquihalla accidents

One airlifted in critical condition, four taken via ambulance in stable condition

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Francesco Molinari wins British Open at Carnoustie

It is his first win at a major and the first by an Italian

Most Read