The two victims killed in the horrific New Year's Eve attack in Rochester, New York, have now been identified.
Justina Hughes, 28, of Geneva, and Joshua Orr, 29, of Webster, spent their last night together watching 2024 at a rock concert at the Kodak Center.
Around 12.52 am on New Year's Day, they had just left the event and were riding as passengers in an Uber leaving the venue.
But as the Mitsubishi pulled out of the parking lot, a Ford SUV driven by 35-year-old suspect Michael Avery plowed into the vehicle, before running over a crowd of pedestrians in a crosswalk.
Not even an hour into 2024, the two concertgoers had lost their lives.
Avery died hours later from his injuries. The Uber driver was also taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
At least nine pedestrians were also injured in the “intentional” crash, Rochester Police Chief David Smith said Tuesday.
At least one victim has been left with “life-changing” injuries, while all others should make a full recovery.
Hughes' family confirmed her death in a statement to local network WHAM.
The family said she and Orr were the best of friends and so were “comforted” by the fact the couple had spent their final moments together “enjoying their passion and friendship”.
The couple will be “forever heroes” as “many other lives were saved because they became, albeit unknowingly, a shield for others” when the Ford SUV plowed into their car head first in front of the crowd, the family said.
Orr's family echoed that, saying in a statement to the report that “he is a hero and saved countless lives from being taken from our community.”
His family also takes comfort in knowing that he spent his final moments enjoying live music – something he loved most.
“On New Year's Eve, Josh was doing his favorite thing in the world, watching a Grateful Dead tribute band when he was taken from us,” they said.
Orr's partner Brit Abbott described him as the “kindest person” as she said she would “miss him for the rest of my life”.
Avery was named as a suspect in the “intentional” crash that killed the two victims on Tuesday.
Investigators are not yet sure what motivated him to speed into the crowd.
Police said at a press conference on Tuesday that there was no evidence of terrorism or political or social motives.
The suspect's family believed he had a “possible undiagnosed mental health problem,” police said.
The crash sparked a massive fire that took firefighters nearly an hour to put out, Chief Smith said.
Once the fire was contained and extinguished, first responders on the scene found an unusual amount of gasoline cans in and around the stricken vehicle.
In all, police said at least half a dozen gasoline cans were found on the road and in the vehicle.
On Tuesday, Chief Smith confirmed that Avery had purchased these gasoline products from various stores in the Ontario area on December 30.
The independent has contacted the Rochester Police Department for more information.