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Police report busy May Day Eve, probe Helsinki and Hyvinkää crashes

Three people were injured when a suspected drunk driver sped into a crowded area of Helsinki, while a motorway crash left one dead and three hurt.

Helsingin keskustassa on tapahtunut liikenneonnettomuus
Helsingin keskustassa on tapahtunut liikenneonnettomuus

Police in many areas of Finland said they were kept busy on Saturday night due to drunk and disorderly behaviour as residents celebrated the first May Day Eve without restrictions since 2019.

Helsinki police responded to more than 300 calls during May Day (Vappu) festivities on Saturday night and early Sunday. In a statement they described the night as "a return to the pre-coronavirus era of the last decade".

Central Finland police also said that May Day Eve was much livelier than in the past two years, as restaurants were allowed to remain open late.

However police in Eastern Finland told the news agency STT that celebrations were calmer than last May Day. This may have been partly due to the weather. In Kuopio, for example, it was below freezing overnight.

3 injured by reckless driver near Esplanade

Most of the police tasks in Helsinki involved public unruliness and brawls. Domestic disputes played a smaller role.

The most serious incident took place around 7 pm, when a man drove at high speed through the city centre, hitting eight cars on Pohjoisesplanadi, one of the parallel boulevards alongside Esplanade Park.

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The suspect collided with another car outside Café Esplanad. Image: Jussi Mankkinen / Yle

The area is adjacent to the Havis Amanda statue and the Market Square, traditionally a centre of May Day Eve celebrations. Authorities estimate that tens of thousands of people were gathered in the area.

Three people were injured, including the suspect. Social media videos show the man resisting and yelling as he was wrestled to the ground by four police officers in the middle of the street after the final crash.

Helsinki police suspect the 33-year-old man of aggravated endangerment of traffic safety, aggravated drunk driving, grievous bodily injury, resisting an official and insubordination, the police said in a statement.

The suspect endangered the safety of numerous bystanders while driving, police said. However they did not believe that he intentionally tried to run people over.

Police said that a patrol ordered the driver to stop on Pohjoisranta in the Kruununhaka district, but he failed to do so.

According to an Yle reporter at the scene, the black car drove at high speed from Aleksanterinkatu to Unioninkatu and then onto Pohjoisesplanadi.

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A terrace outside the café was destroyed. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

The suspect's car finally collided with another car outside Café Esplanad at Pohjoisesplanadi 37. A parklet outside the café was completely destroyed, and a car was rammed against the wall of the café.

All those injured received hospital treatment but were later released from hospital, police said.

"The police have collected a lot of video and eyewitness observations from the scene, which are being reviewed. In addition, we will continue to talk to those affected and eyewitnesses," Detective Inspector Kalle da Silva Gonçalves told Yle.

According to the newspaper Ilta-Sanomat, the man was driving a black Mercedes-Benz whose owner has worked for the state and ran as a candidate in the recent regional elections for a party in Parliament. Iltalehti reports that the man is a government official with two university degrees who served as an assistant to a Member of the European Parliament.

Helsinki police confirmed to Iltalehti that the car involved in the crash had not been stolen. However, they declined to say whether the car's owner was behind the wheel at the time.

1 killed, 3 hurt in Hyvinkää collision

In Hyvinkää, Central Uusimaa, one person was killed and three injured in a two-car crash on Route 3 around 1 am Sunday. According to rescue services, all the injured were taken to hospital.

Police on Sunday corrected their earlier statement that four people were injured.

There were three people in one car and one in the other car, which struck it from behind. The person who died and two of the injured were in the front car. Both cars were in a southbound lane. Police are investigating the accident.

14.04 and 17.31: More details of Helsinki incident.

14.53 and 18.08: More details of Hyvinkää accident.