NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (KTNV) — After a high-speed traffic collision in North Las Vegas killed nine people on Saturday, many are asking what could have been done to prevent such a tragedy.
That will be the focus of an investigation into the crash by the National Transportation Safety Board, officials announced in a press conference on Monday.
The NTSB sent a team of investigators to the crash site to work with the North Las Vegas Police Department — though Tom Chapman, who represented the agency at the presser, stressed that the board's investigation will take a different focus.
WATCH THE FULL BRIEFING HERE:
NTSB investigators will study what happened in North Las Vegas this weekend in an effort to improve policy at the federal level that might reduce speeding-related crashes nationally, Chapman said.
Crashes where speed is a factor have spiked since 2019, both in the state of Nevada and across the country, Chapman noted. From 2019 to 2020, there was an 11% increase in speeding-related traffic fatalities at the national level. Of the total fatal traffic collisions in 2019, speeding was a factor in 26% of them, Chapman said.
With those statistics in mind, efforts to reduce speeding-related crashes are top of mind for the NTSB and traffic safety advocates here in Nevada.
The NTSB, in coordination with the North Las Vegas Police Department, is launching a go-team to investigate the fatal Jan. 29, 2022, multi-vehicle crash in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Check Twitter @NTSB_Newsroom for updates.— NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) January 30, 2022
That could be accomplished, Chapman said, through safety improvements like intelligent speed adaptation devices. These devices ensure that a vehicle's speed does not exceed a safe or legally enforced speed by alerting the driver or automatically reducing the car's speed.
The driver who caused the crash, 59-year-old Gary Dean Robinson, was traveling more than 100 mph when he ran a red light at the intersection of Cheyenne Avenue and Commerce Street, police said. The posted speed limit on Commerce Street is 35 mph and 50 mph on Cheyenne Avenue.
Fifteen people in total were traveling in the six vehicles involved in the crash. Nine of them were killed, including seven people traveling together in a Toyota Sienna minivan. Four of those killed were younger than 16 years old. The victims included Fernando Yeshua Mejia, 5; Adrian Zacarias, 10; Lluvia Daylenn Zacarias, 13; Bryan Axel Zacarias, 15; Gabriel Mejia-Barrera, 23; David Mejia-Barrera, 25; and Jose Zacarias-Caldera, 35.
Robinson died, as did his passenger, 46-year-old Tanaga Ravel Miller.
At least one other person remains in critical condition at University Medical Center, according to police.
Clark County recently announced the creation of the Office of Traffic Safety as part of the county's efforts to reduce crashes and dangerous driving.
“The Office will help ensure that all relevant departments and agencies are working together to reduce the record-shattering number of injuries and fatalities occurring on our roadways,” Commissioner Michael Naft said previously. “I believe that by improving how our roads are engineered, rules are enforced, and community is educated we can save lives and taxpayer dollars.”