Endymion crash victim still suffering more than a month after horrific event

NEW ORLEANS - The intersection of Orleans and Carrollton avenues looks pretty normal if you pass by today, but that wasn't the case on Feb. 25 when a drunk driver crashed into a crowd of parade watchers during Krewe of Endymion.

Allison Reinhardt, well-known in the music community as the co-founder of the Roots of Music program, remembers it all too well.

"I remember standing up, I was just standing up and the truck, the grill of the car was right there and I couldn't understand if I was moving or not," she recalls. "I heard my bones crushing but absolutely no pain. The only way I knew that the car was moving is my hair was blowing."

The night wasn't supposed to end this way.

Reinhardt, a New York transplant, had her best friends in town. They, like thousands of others, were here to enjoy the parade, but instead she suffered a punctured lung and a host of broken bones.

"All of my ribs were broken are on the left side, and it kind of goes along there," she explains. "That bone between the elbow and the shoulder is broken, dislocated shoulder, and collarbone is in good condition."

Neilson Rizzuto

The driver, Neilson Rizzuto of Ponchatoula, is facing 26 charges: 12 counts of vehicular negligent injury, 12 counts of first-degree vehicular negligent injury, hit-and-run driving with serious injury, and reckless operation of a vehicle.

NOPD said Rizzuoto’s blood-alcohol level was .232 percent, almost three times the legal limit, when he crashed his truck into the crowd, injuring 28 people and sending 21 of them to the hospital.

"I feel like he's always going to be that guy," Reinhardt says. "He's 25 years old, that sucks but you know what? I would love an opportunity to ask him, 'Where were you going? Where were you headed you saw all those people there?'"

There are a few fundraisers around town to help with Reinhardt's recovery:

  • Putumayo World Music - Reinhardt's record label - is donating $1 per New Orleans CD sold in Louisiana to her recovery fund. They are doing the same with their new release "Vintage Italia."
  • New Orleans Musicians Clinic & Assistance Foundation has set up a donor advised fund for my recovery. All donations here are 100% tax deductible. You must memo: for ALLISON
  • There's a fundraiser Sunday, April 2, at 4 p.m. at B Macs French Quarter Bar and Courtyard. Get the details here.