RIO DE JANEIRO – A driver who killed a baby girl and injured 16 others when he plowed into a crowd near this Brazilian metropolis’ famed Copacabana beach had a suspended license, police said Friday.
Police said the driver, identified as Antonio Almeida Anaquim, was not under the effect of alcohol but that his license had been suspended due to excessive infractions.
Thursday night’s accident occurred at a time when a large crowd of locals and tourists were enjoying the hottest day of the year in Rio de Janeiro.
An eight-month-old girl was killed and 16 others were injured, including a 68-year-old, unidentified Australian man who is listed in serious condition.
The 41-year-old Anaquim told police he had an epileptic attack while driving at high speed on Atlantica Avenue and lost control of the vehicle, which veered onto a promenade before finally coming to a stop on the sand.
Police confirmed that the driver indeed suffers from epilepsy and found anti-epileptic drugs inside the vehicle, adding that a breathalyzer test revealed he had not consumed alcohol.
But Anaquim, who spent the night at a police station, had had his driver’s license suspended due to 14 traffic infractions in 2014 and had not taken the legally required steps to get that document back.
Vehicle registration authorities said for their part that they were unaware Anaquim had epilepsy, adding that people with that neurological disorder must undergo a specific medical exam before being issued a license.
Police said Almeida will face involuntary manslaughter charges but be allowed to remain free pending trial.
The 16 injured received treatment at two hospitals. Three have been released, while the others – including the mother of the infant who died – are recovering from their injuries.
The only person seriously injured was the Australian tourist, who suffered head trauma and currently requires artificial respiration.