Photographer Lynsey Addario can’t seem to escape scenes of danger and destruction.
While on assignment for National Geographic on Thursday in New York, Addario—who has covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti—was photographing a group of firefighters in the West Village when they got an emergency call. Lynsey rode along with them to the scene of a horrific car accident in Times Square.
“They got a call saying there were numerous pedestrians down and a car had run over some number of them," says Addario. "It reminded me of recent terror attacks in France and in Sweden,”
According to authorities, a driver who may have been drunk plowed through a crowd of pedestrians. One person was killed and 23 were injured.
By virtue of her one-day-only access to the firefighters, Addario was allowed inside the perimeter established by police at Times Square. And as the firefighters and paramedics began performing triage, Addario went to work shooting. For three blocks—from 42nd Street to 45th Street—the pavement was covered with people, debris, and clothing items.
“At that point, you don’t know if it’s an accident, or a terror attack, or something else," Addario says. "It’s not my job to figure it out, it’s just my job to go to work and get images for later.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that the incident didn’t appear to be terror-related. It will be investigated as an accident.
But Addario's impulses from having worked in war zones kicked in immediately.
“There are similarities with any type of scene like this," she says. "As I approach the scene, I’m looking at whether the car is rigged with explosives, and what’s on the ground. You have to be very aware and stay out of the way of the first responders, but to be close enough inside the perimeter to see what’s happening. You use the same skill set. Really, you have to be very aware.”