Las Vegas police say that a woman intentionally drove her car onto a crowded Strip sidewalk multiple times Sunday night, killing at least one person and injuring 37 others, six of them critically.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Lt. Dan McGrath said the woman in her 20s, whose name has not been publicly released, “went up and off these streets, two or possibly three times.” The woman is being interviewed and is having her blood drawn for a sobriety test, police said. She is being held in the Clark County Jail with charges pending.
The incident occurred at around 6:40 p.m. local time (9:40 p.m. EST). The woman’s car, a 1996 Oldsmobile, was in the northbound lanes of Las Vegas Boulevard near Bellagio Way when it drove up onto the sidewalk in front of the Paris Hotel & Casino and struck pedestrians, police Lt. Peter Boffelli said. Police confirmed the person killed was an adult, but would not identify the victim further.
“This is a huge tragedy that has happened on our Strip,” Boffelli told reporters at a news conference.
Despite the apparently deliberate nature of the crash, LVMPD Deputy Chief Brett Zimmerman said authorities “know this was not an act of terrorism.”
The incident took place in one of the busiest areas of the Strip, across from the famous dancing water fountains of the Bellagio hotel-casino. Zimmerman said investigators were examining security footage from the hotels and casinos “to get a detailed idea of what occurred.”
Lt. McGrath said the car was registered in Oregon and the driver had recently moved to the area. After the crash, the car headed 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.
Justin Cochrane, a property manager from Santa Barbara, Calif., said he was having dinner at a sidewalk restaurant outside the Paris 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, Calif., 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, Calif., near their home.
Clark County Fire Chief Greg Cassell said 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.
The Miss Universe pageant was wrapping up at the nearby Planet Hollywood resort-casino around the time of the accident, though there was no indication the two events were connected.