1 killed after car hits crowds of pedestrians on Vegas Strip
LAS VEGAS >> A woman intentionally swerved her car onto a busy sidewalk two or three times Sunday and mowed down people outside a Las Vegas casino, killing one person and injuring at least 30 others, police said.
The vehicle was in the northbound lanes of Las Vegas Boulevard near Bellagio Way when it drove up onto the sidewalk about 6:30 p.m. in front of the Paris Hotel & Casino and struck pedestrians, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Peter Boffelli said. The person killed was an adult, he said.
Police believe this was an intentional act by a woman in her 20s who "went up and off these streets, two or possibly three times," Lt. Dan McGrath said. The motive behind the attack is unknown, police said.
The woman is being interviewed and is having her blood drawn, police said. She is being held in the Clark County jail with charges pending.
"This is a huge tragedy that has happened on our Strip," Boffelli said.
The crash in front of the Paris and Planet Hollywood hotels occurred on a busy stretch of the Las Vegas Strip across from the dancing water fountains of the Bellagio hotel-casino where visitors crowd sidewalks as they was walk from one casino to another. The Miss Universe pageant was being held nearby at the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort & Casino at the time of the crash.
Police are reviewing video from casino-hotel surveillance cameras, Capt. Brett Zimmerman said. "We know this was not an act of terrorism," he said. "We will comb through that footage to get a detailed idea of what occurred. "
After the crash, the vehicle continued to head east on Flamingo Road before it was found at a hotel, McGrath said. The driver was taken into custody at the hotel, police said. A 3-year-old child was in the vehicle with her but was not hurt, Zimmerman said.
McGrath said the 1996 Oldsmobile was registered in Oregon and the driver had recently moved to the area.
The pedestrians were not in the road and were not at fault, McGrath said.
Justin Cochrane, a property manager from Santa Barbara, California, said he was having dinner at a sidewalk restaurant outside the Paris Hotel and across the street from the famous Bellagio Fountain when the incident took place.
The car appeared to be going 30 to 40 mph when it first hit the pedestrians on Las Vegas Boulevard, Cochrane said. "It was just massacring people," he said.
The vehicle then went farther down the road and drove back into another crowd of pedestrians on the sidewalk, he said.
Cochrane said he couldn't understand why the car went into the crowd a second time. "Why would it slow to go around and then accelerate again?" he said. "I thought it's a crazy person."
Cochrane said he saw children and adults injured and on the ground as the car drove away.
Joel Ortega, 31, of Redlands, California, said he and his wife, Carla, were in Las Vegas for the weekend and found themselves blocked from walking on the sidewalk toward the Paris Hotel & Casino. They could see police investigating about a block away from the scene of the crash.
"At first, I thought it was a movie shoot," Joel Ortega said, "I thought maybe we'd see someone famous."
But then they learned that it was a crash scene. Joel Ortega said it made them remember how their neighborhood was disrupted after the Dec. 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, near their home.
Clark County Fire Chief Greg Cassell said the call for help came in at 6:38 p.m. and 70 emergency crew workers were sent to the scene.
Those in critical condition were treated at University Medical Center, Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center and Spring Valley Hospital.
Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center spokeswoman Stacy Acquista said it has treated 13 people, including nine men and four women. So far, 10 have been treated and released, but three were downgraded from good to fair condition and will remain hospitalized.
Danita Cohen, spokeswoman for University Medical Center, said 15 crash victims were brought to its trauma center, one of whom died. Three remained in critical condition as of 11 p.m. Two others were treated and released.
The nine patients who remained in serious condition included an 11-year-old child. The others were adults. Some were from Montreal and needed a French translator.
Spring Valley Hospital spokeswoman Gretchen Papez said three people had received care for minor injuries and were being discharged as of 10:50 p.m.
On Oct. 24, a woman was accused of driving into a crowd during Oklahoma State's homecoming parade in Stillwater. Four people were killed, including a 2-year-old boy, and more than 40 were hurt. The driver, 25-year-old Adacia Chambers of Stillwater, was this month found competent to stand trial on four counts of second-degree murder and 46 counts of assault.
In September 2005, three tourists were killed and nearly a dozen injured when a car barreled through the crowd on the Las Vegas Strip and crashed into a cement barrier in front of Bally's hotel-casino.
One of the busiest stretches of Las Vegas Boulevard was likely to remain closed through the night as the investigation continues, police said.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.