NTSB posts its file on North Las Vegas crash that killed 9
By KEN RITTER
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Federal crash investigators have released reports and investigative material about a multi-vehicle wreck a year ago in North Las Vegas that killed a driver and his passenger in a speeding sports car and seven members of a family in a minivan.
The National Transportation Safety Board study of the crash has not reached findings or recommendations. In January 2022, a board member said it might include a look at speed-limiting technology in vehicles including high-performance sports cars.
“The NTSB continues to collect data,” the board said in a section of approximately 300 pages of so-called docket items posted Thursday.
“All aspects of the collision remain under investigation while the NTSB determines the probable cause, with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar crashes,” it said.
A board spokeswoman, Sarah Sulick, called the posting a last step before a final report is released, but said that might still be months away.
On Sunday, a 32-year-old woman who was critically injured in the crash plans to join community members and traffic safety advocates for a memorial tree planting at a regional park in North Las Vegas.
Tiffany May Noel did not immediately respond Thursday to messages from The Associated Press.
Erin Breen, director of a traffic safety office at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said May Noel agreed to attend the event after enduring several surgeries and “countless hours” of physical therapy to recover from injuries.
“Ms. May Noel is determined to appeal to others to change dangerous driving behaviors,” Breen said in a statement about the Sunday ceremony.
The seven members of the North Las Vegas family killed in the crash were the driver, Jose Zacarias-Caldera, 35; and passengers David Mejia-Barrera, 25; Gabriel Mejia-Barrera, 23; Bryan Axel Zacarias, 15; Lluvia Daylenn Zacarias, 13; Adrian Zacarias, 10; and Fernando Yeshua Mejia, 5.
They were in a 2013 Toyota Sienna van that was demolished when it was struck broadside by a 2018 Dodge Challenger that police and the NTSB said accelerated to 103 mph (166 kph) as it ran a red light, causing the crash.
The driver of the Challenger, Gary Dean Robinson, 59, and a passenger, Tanaga Ravel Miller, 46, also died of multiple injuries in the crash. Both men lived in North Las Vegas.
Police and the Clark County coroner found that Robinson had intoxicating levels of cocaine and PCP in his system at the time of the mid-afternoon crash.
The NTSB noted that Robinson had a history of speeding, driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license arrests and convictions dating to 1984 in Indiana. It said his license in Nevada was suspended from December 2017 to January 2020 for failure to pay fines and costs.
“NTSB investigators located evidence that the driver had received additional traffic citations that were not yet documented on his record,” the board said, including guilty pleas to separate speeding tickets in December 2021 in North Las Vegas and Las Vegas municipal courts.
Robinson also served time in Nevada state prison after pleading guilty in 2004 to felony cocaine possession and violating terms of his probation, according to court records, and had a 2009 misdemeanor conviction for battery on a courtroom bailiff.
Four other vehicles also were involved in the crash, but people in them were not reported to have been injured.
Breen said she saw in the more than 300 pages of material posted by the NTSB a reminder “of what happens when people choose to disregard laws about traffic safety.”
“How can you be that impaired by that many substances and still be able to drive on a street with curves at more than 100 mph?” the traffic safety advocate asked.
“The only thing that stopped him was the van with the family in it that had a green light and happened to be in his path,” she said.