By Janet Tappin Coelho
A car ploughed into a tourist packed promenade on the world famous Copacabana Beach in Brazil – killing a baby girl.
Police confirmed eight-month-old Marie Louise died in the car accident on Copacabana Beach on Thursday night. She was taken to the Emergency Unit in Copacabana, but succumbed to his injuries.
Her mother Niedja da Silva Araújo, 23 is in a serious condition in hospital.
Fifteen people were reportedly injured in the incident that happened at 8:30 local time. Four are in a serious condition along with two children and an Australian tourist.
An unnamed 68-year-old man suffered head injuries and breathing equipment was used at the scene to help his condition. Another victim suffered open fractures and underwent emergency surgery.
Many of the injured were taken to Miguel Couto Municipal Hospital in Leblon. Others were transported to Souza Aguiar Municipal Hospital in the city centre.
Cops ruled out a terror attack.
As the damaged vehicle was lifted off the beach by a tow truck, a collection of personal possessions including bags, shoes and other items were
found crushed underneath the car wheels where it had landed.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing the car, a black Hyundai HB20, fly through the air as it crossed the bike path hitting the concrete borders, crashing into several people walking along the Figueredo Magalhães Sidewalk at the time and into those on the beach.
It finally stopped with all four wheels resting on the sand.
Hundreds of people were out enjoying the popular location in the evening as summer temperatures hit 31 degrees.
The driver was arrested at the scene and identified as Antonio de Almeida Anakim, 41. He was taken to the 12th police precinct in Copacabana.
Colonel Murilo Angelotti, commander of the military police 17th Battalion in Copacabana, said: “The motorist is believed to have had an epileptic fit and lost control of the car.”
Investigators reported that the motorist showed ‘no signs of intoxication’ and claimed he had not been drinking and did not remember what happened as he ‘was unconscious’ for a few minutes.
Before police arrived, locals reported the driver tried to run away but was stopped by beachgoers who allegedly started beating him.
It is also being claimed a woman passenger was in the car with the suspect. She is said to have fled the scene moments after the accident happened.
Brazilian law determines that a person caught at the scene of a crime is treated harsher than a person who is not detained at the time of the incident.
Harrowing pictures showed day-trippers injured on the popular tourist beach being attended to by emergency works and comforted by family and friends.
Graphic mobile phone footage showed numerous beachgoers lying injured on the floor as bystanders tended to the wounded.
One eyewitness who works as a sand sculpturer on the iconic beach said (to Focus On News): “I saw the car come whizzing off the road and fly across the broadwalk and onto the beach. There was a huge noise as it hit the ground and flew through the air at least a metre high.
“It just rammed through people. The car hit the beach trolleys that transport the beach chairs and umbrellas and battered into people who were selling stuff on the sidewalk.
“I ran to the vehicle and soon as it stopped and saw there was a girl in the passenger side. She opened the door and ran away.
“I went to the driver’s side and opened the door and said to the man inside ‘what on earth have you done mate?’. I took the keys from the car and the guy jumped out the car and tried to run off. I gave the keys to the police and went to help my friend who had been injured,” the beach
Some eyewitnesses said the vehicle was not going at high speed because the traffic was congested on the main Atlantic Avenue.
An Argentine tourist said to GloboNews the car was speeding.
She said: “Chairs begun to fly everywhere. At first I didn’t realize that it was caused by a car until I saw people lying on the floor. There was an injured baby.
“It happened very fast and [the car] came along very fast. It was strange, because the traffic was very slow.”
Witnesses said the baby, who died in the accident, was being carried in a pushchair by her mother who was accompanied by the child’s grandmother when the incident occurred.
Daris La Mar, 40, who tried to help in the rescue said emergency workers tried to revive the baby for 50 minutes.
She said: “When I arrived on the boardwalk, there were many people who had been injured and, as I approached the mother and the baby, she just said ‘My baby. Where’s my baby’
“Then the grandmother handed me the baby and she said ‘Save my baby’.
“The first car that stopped was the Municipal Guard and they took us to the hospital.”
Marie Louise’s father, Darlan Rocha, a driver, rushed to the Emergency Hospital in Copacabana. He called for the driver to be arrested and jailed.
According to Rio de Janeiro State’s Traffic Department (RJ-DMV), Mr Anakim, has a suspended driver’s license with a reported 62 points for driving offences and 14 fines in the last five years.
The motorist was taken to the Medical Legal Institute (IML) on Thursday night for breathalyser and blood tests.
Forensic investigators reported that anti-epilepsy medication was found inside the vehicle.