"It's just an empty, hollow feeling," says father of Times Square victim


NEW YORK — The father of a teenage tourist who was run down by a driver in Times Square on Thursday is speaking out about his heartbreak and the city where it happened. 

Eighteen-year-old Alyssa Elsman loved to travel and laugh. She died while walking through New York’s Times Square, struck by a crazed driver. 

“This is something beyond anything I could ever imagine, you know?” said her father, Thomas Elsman. “My daughter came here for vacation and now I’m going to take her home and bury her.” 

Another daughter, 13-year-old Ava, is recovering after being hit by the same car.

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Alyssa Elsman, 18, was killed when Richard Rojas drove into a crowd of pedestrians in Times Square.

CBS News

“It’s just an empty, hollow feeling,” Thomas Elsman said.  

On Thursday, the driver of this maroon Honda barreled into a crowd along 42nd Street, and then accelerated, killing Alyssa before coming to a crashing halt. 

“They have a whole memorial for her down there. Beautiful, beautiful thing,” Thomas Elsman said. 

On Friday, prosecutors charged 26-year-old Richard Rojas, with murder, aggravated vehicular homicide and 20 counts of attempted murder. The Navy veteran told police he was high on PCP and wanted to kill everyone in his path.

Meanwhile, as this grieving father prepares to lay his daughter to rest, he says he is grateful for the kindness and support his family has received in New York.

“You go to down to Times Square and that big concrete above it is all signed ‘I love you’ and — it doesn’t bring her back, but it’s nice to see the outpouring of this — you know, New York’s not the town of jerks and things that people think it is. It’s a town that has a big heart,” Thomas Elsman said.

The barricade where the vehicle came to a halt is now a makeshift memorial. Of the 22 people injured in the rampage, six remain in the hospital, two of them in critical condition.

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