Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 | 10:56 a.m.
The Nevada Highway Patrol continues to try to determine who was at fault – a U.S. Capitol Police officer or a Metro Police officer – in the multivehicle accident last week in Las Vegas that sent U.S. Sen. Harry Reid to a local emergency room.
Highway Patrol Maj. Kevin Tice said the Highway Patrol had not yet assigned blame in the accident, which occurred about 1:10 p.m. Friday on Interstate 15, just north of the Sahara Avenue exit.
The Highway Patrol investigation, Tice said, is focusing on the last two vehicles in the four-car security detail that was transporting Reid, the Senate majority leader, and his aides to an interview in downtown Las Vegas.
The Highway Patrol’s accident report is not yet completed, but in a telephone call Wednesday morning, Tice gave this summary of what occurred:
Four cars – two vehicles leased by the federal government flanked in the front and rear by two Metro vehicles – were traveling in a line in the northbound lanes of I-15 when traffic apparently stopped abruptly. One of the last two cars in the line rear-ended the car it was following and a chain-reaction accident involving five cars occurred.
It was, Tice said, “an accordion-type effect.”
A Capitol Police officer was driving the next-to-last vehicle in the motorcade, and a Metro officer was driving the car bringing up the rear.
“We’re trying to determine which driver is at fault,” Tice said.
Reid, 72, who was riding in the second car from the front of the detail, was transported via private vehicle to University Medical Center after the accident. He was treated for bruised ribs and hips and left the hospital later Friday afternoon, his office reported.
Initial reports Friday indicated there had been six vehicles in the accident. Tice said it originally was thought a tractor-trailer was hit in the pileup, but the Highway Patrol could not confirm a tractor-trailer’s involvement in the accident.
The Sun on Monday afternoon filed an open records request with the Nevada Department of Public Safety for the accident report, after efforts to gain additional insight into the accident were stymied throughout the weekend and Monday.
Tice, deputy chief for the Highway Patrol’s Southern Command, said the Highway Patrol had been deferring to requests from federal officials about media inquiries into the accident.
“We accommodated the U.S. Capitol Police request, and Senator Reid’s office, to consolidate with Metro’s PIO and our PIO, so there wouldn’t be multiple statements out there,” he said.
The Highway Patrol’s accident report is expected to be released Thursday.