June 18 (UPI) — The driver of a taxi that plowed into a crowd in Moscow fell asleep at the wheel, authorities said Sunday.
A spokesperson for the Main Directorate of the city’s Interior Ministry told Russia’s TASS news agency that the driver lost control of the vehicle, after Moscow’s traffic organization center reported the driver said the crash Saturday was unintentional.
“The preliminary cause of the road accident is failure to control the vehicle. The driver has been detained and delivered to the local police office. An inspection is underway,” the spokesperson said.
Authorities also told TASS the driver was sober at the time of the crash, but fell asleep briefly while driving.
The 28-year-old driver said he had been behind the wheel of the taxi for 20 hours and mistakenly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake and drove into a crowd of pedestrians, the BBC reported.
“I wanted to brake, I wanted to let someone through,” he told police. “I switched off for a second and hit the accelerator … then I saw the people.”
He added that he fled the scene after the crash because he feared the crowd in the area would try to kill him.
At least eight people were injured in the crash, including two Mexican nationals who had come to Russia for the World Cup.