The driver, whom the NYPD identified as 26-year-old Richard Rojas, was arrested.
Rojas allegedly hurtled down Seventh Avenue in a 2009 Honda sedan before pulling a U-turn at 42nd Street, hopping the curb and zipping more than three blocks on the sidewalk before slamming into a barrier at 45th Street.
The NY Post has identified the woman killed by Rojas as Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old tourist from MI who was visiting the city with her family.
Within minutes of the crash, witnesses reported on social media that the auto had driven onto the sidewalk and struck random passersby before crashing against a pole and coming to a rest at 45th Street and Broadway.
One young woman was killed and 22 people injured after a auto plowed into pedestrians in Times Square on Thursday, officials said. It jumped onto a sidewalk and drove for three blocks while plowing into pedestrians, authorities said.
According to reports, the alleged driver is 26-year-old man named Richard Rojas, a Bronx resident and US citizen with a history of DWI. She watched the vehicle slam into a steel divider and catch fire, she said.
The incident sparked instant jitters after recent deadly car-ramming attacks in London, Berlin and the French city of Nice, but officials said early evidence did not point to a terror link.
Richard has reportedly been arrested twice for DWI, but he supposedly wasn't drunk when he drove through the streets of the Big Apple, a high-ranking police official said.
The sidewalks around Times Square have been secured with more than 200 steel bollards meant to prevent accidental or criminal vehicle intrusions, said Rob Reiter, chief security consultant for CalPipe Security Bollards. We feel deeply for those injured and particularly for the family of the young woman who was lost. Here's video showing police walking Rojas from the police precinct: City officials said Rojas has two prior driving-while-intoxicated arrests and other motor vehicle violations on his record. Officials believe Rojas was high on synthetic marijuana, commonly known as K2.
Police closed off the area after the incident.
The White House said President Donald Trump was informed of the situation in Times Square and would continue to be briefed as it unfolded. "It hit everybody on the block", said another witness, Michael Elias, 31.
Elizabeth Long of OH told CNN she was walking to the Hard Rock Cafe when she saw a maroon vehicle heading toward her on the sidewalk.
When Long went outside and looked in the direction the auto had gone, she saw at least six people lying on the ground, including a woman lying face-down with blood pouring from her head.
Friend Harrison Ramos told reporters that Rojas hadn't been the same since he returned from active duty in the Navy.
He said: "She would always text me back as quick as she could and when I didn't hear from her or her friend, I knew something terrible happened".
"He's been going through a real tough time", he said.
Law enforcement officials have now said Rojas was likely under the influence of a drug ingested via smoking.
However, there has been no indication that the Times Square crash has been a terrorist attack, and it is being investigated as an accident.