The driver mounted the pavement and aimed his SUV vehicle at pedestrians – sending several crashing into the windscreen and flying over the car – before getting out and stabbing bystanders with a knife
A city centre street became a scene of carnage earlier today when a maniac driver rammed his car into crowds of shoppers, killing three and injuring 34 others.
The driver mounted the pavement and aimed his SUV vehicle at pedestrians – sending several crashing into the windscreen and flying over the car – before getting out and stabbing bystanders with a knife.
A seven-year-old boy and a woman believed to be his mother are feared to be among the dead following the horrific incident in Austria’s second largest city of Graz.
The driver – a 26 year old Austrian – was arrested at the scene by police as ambulance workers treated the injured.
Graz’s main shopping street of Herrengasse was packed with Saturday shoppers and people sitting at outdoor cafe tables when the drama unfolded shortly after noon.
Shocked eyewitnesses said the car was travelling at between 60mph and 90mph when it entered a nearby square, which was hosting an event related to the Austrian Formula 1 Grand Prix, sending terrified pedestrians running for their lives.
The man apparently drove his vehicle into the crowd at random, sending several people crashing into the windscreen and flying over the car.
Art gallery worker Helmut Reinisch said: “I heard a little hissing sound as it went past at maybe 100kmh.
“Then I heard loud screams and went out and saw lying on the ground a child and a man and two bikes that looked as if they had been rolled over.
“I immediately called the rescue, but the driver got out and attacked with a knife before anyone could arrest him – the police, the people. Everyone then rushed in to help.”
Another witness said: “People were screaming in panic and ran into the surrounding shops to get to safety.”
The driver then got out of the SUV and started stabbing people with a knife – including the elderly and policemen – before being arrested.
About 60 ambulances converged on the area and the Austrian auto club sent four helicopters to bring the victims to hospitals.
Doctors at the scene attempted to save the lives of at least one victim, a cyclist, who later died.
As police sealed off the area, photographs showed a heavily damaged green SUV with smashed broken lights.
There was no immediate indication why the driver ploughed into the crowd.
But police ruled out terrorism and said the suspect – believed to be of Bosnian origin – was “mentally disoriented” and acting alone.
Provincial governor Hermann Schuetzenhoefer said that 10 of the injured were seriously hurt and at least one was critical.
He described the motorist as a “deranged” lone assassin, adding: “There is no explanation, there is no excuse.”
The victims are being remembered at a memorial service at a church in the centre of the city this evening.