Dad of crash victim leaves note of gratitude in Times Square

Posted at 4:28 PM, May 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-22 16:28:17-04

NEW YORK (AP/FOX 17) — The father of a Michigan tourist killed by an out-of-control driver in Times Square left a note at a memorial for his daughter, thanking New Yorkers for their support and saying her loss was a hole in his heart “that can never be filled.”

Thomas Elsman on Saturday visited the site where 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman was killed.

His daughter had been visiting New York City with her mother and younger sister when she was killed Thursday. Authorities said Bronx resident Richard Rojas drove his car through Times Square and onto a sidewalk, striking helpless tourists for three blocks, before crashing into protective barriers. Twenty-two people, included Alyssa Elsman’s younger sister, were injured.

Alyssa Elsman graduated in 2016 from Portage Central High School.

At Rojas’ court appearance last week, a prosecutor said Rojas told police that he wanted to “kill them all” and that police should have shot him. Police said Rojas also admitted smoking marijuana laced with PCP sometime before the crash. Officials were waiting for toxicology reports.

Thomas Elsman left his framed note at a concrete block that has become a makeshift memorial, covered with people’s names and wishes including “Rest in Peace.” Bouquets of flowers had been placed on top and on the sides, along with candles and stuffed animals. When he made his visit, onlookers hugged him and offered condolences.

In his note, he said, “This impromptu memorial dedicated to our daughter and seeing and talking to many of you has helped me cope with our loss.”He wrote: “I look at myself and will never understand how I could have ever made such an angel.”

After saying that he loves her, he ended the note with a simple, “Dad.”