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Michigan woman identified as victim in deadly Times Square crash

Alyssa Elsman, shown in 2016, was killed by

Alyssa Elsman, shown in 2016, was killed by a driver who mowed down pedestrians along a sidewalk in Times Square on May 18, 2017. Credit: Portage Central High School

An 18-year-old tourist from Michigan who was killed Thursday in the Times Square rampage was remembered by her former principal as “smart, funny and engaging.”

Alyssa Elsman, of Portage, Michigan, was struck by a car speeding down a sidewalk in Times Square. Nearly two dozen other pedestrians were injured.

Elsman was a 2016 graduate of Portage Central High School, where she was well known for selling muffins made by students as part of a fundraiser for the school’s consumer sciences program.

“Alyssa was the type of person who seemed very shy and reserved when you first met her, but once you started talking to her you realized she was smart, funny and engaging,” said Eric Alburtus, principal of the 1,350-student school, in a statement. “She will be deeply missed by the staff and students here.”

Family members reached by telephone declined to comment Thursday.

Grief counselors will be on hand at the school Friday, said a spokeswoman, Michelle Karpinksi, who said the local community learned of the tragedy in Times Square after students had left for the day Thursday.

“She was a lovely student and very nice person,” Karpinski said.

On an Instagram page registered to someone with the same name, several people who appeared to have known Elsman expressed their shock and sadness over her death on a post that appears to show Elsman in Times Square in April 2016.

“Sooo unfair 😢 RIP beautiful I am sooo sorry that this happened to you & your family,” read one post. “God rest your soul Alyssa. terrible tragedy,” said another.

Police said Elsman was with her younger sister, Ava, who attends Portage Central Middle School, when the two were struck along with about 20 other people when a southbound car on Seventh Avenue suddenly made a U-turn and jumped the curb onto the sidewalk, mowing people down as it raced north and crashed on Seventh Avenue and 45th Street.

Police have not released the names of all of the victims, but among them is William Nelson Sr., 64, of Park Slope, Brooklyn. He is a retired teacher who suffered head and leg injuries when he was hit on 43rd Street, said his son, William Nelson Jr.

“It’s really hard for both of us right now,” Nelson Jr. said, adding that he and his sister recently lost their mother. “It’s a small family.”

By the evening, the younger Nelson said his father was awake and able to squeeze his hand and wiggle his toes.

Victims were taken to two hospitals, Bellevue and Mount Sinai St. Luke’s, with as many as 13 being treated at Bellevue for injuries ranging from pelvic fractures to internal bleeding, head injuries and broken teeth.

They ranged in age from 14 to 74, a spokeswoman said. Seven were male and six female, she said, with four listed in critical condition and two in serious condition.

Christopher Beekharry, was with his uncle Thomas Henry of Queens Village, when he was injured.

They were walking on the sidewalk, he said, when the car just came at them.

“This car just come and I told my wife ‘Look! Look! This car is insane,’ ” he said. “This guy was insane.”

Beekharry was visiting from Guyana with his wife and two children.

“She pulled my kids together and then come close at the back of us,” he said. “This car come and crash into a pole and when it crash into the pole it fell on my uncle who was at the back of the car.

“It fell,” he added. “When it come over, it fell on his head.”

T-shirt vendor Duane Jackson, 64, was at his post on the corner of 45th and Seventh Avenue when the car came hurtling up the street going the wrong way.

“I was checking my email when I heard the skid — it happened so fast,” he said. “It hit the sidewalk first. And then it jumped the curb and hit the security cones. I looked up and the guy jumped out of the car and started running down Broadway . . . He looked panicked, he just started running.”

Jackson said he watched a man dressed like a tourist get hit by the car, knocking him back about 10 feet.

“I went over to the guy he was laying on the ground,” he said. “His family was around him.”

Jackson, who has sold his wares on the same corner for 19 years, said the security cones were only installed a few months ago.

“Thank God those barricades were put here six months ago,” he said. “It worked.”

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