Las Vegas Sun

January 21, 2019

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Nevada car crash casualties: Fatal accidents hit 10-year high in 2018

Fatal Accident on Eastern and Harmon

Steve Marcus

Metro Police and crime scene analysts investigate a fatal accident at Harmon and Eastern avenues Friday, Aug. 31, 2018.

A church-loving boy on his way to school — restrained in the back of the family car — a couple from Idaho illegally crossing the road from a casino, and a man on a west valley sidewalk, were three of 226 people killed in Clark County crashes in 2018.

Despite law enforcement efforts and aggressive public service campaigning, the 331 people killed throughout Nevada last year marks a 10-year high, according to the state’s Department of Public Safety, although the state’s population of 3 million has also increased by about 400,000 residents in the last decade, according to federal data.

In any case, Metro Police traffic officers — who’ve taken to filming cautionary videos in front of mangled cars — have said that one death is too many.

August — which saw 36 people die in Nevada crashes — made up the biggest year-to-month increase (up from 16 fatalities in 2017).

One of them was Levi Echenique, an 8-year-old blond boy who was on his way to school the morning of Aug. 31, when a red Chevrolet Camaro broadsided his car. Aylin Alderette, the responsible motorist, crashed at about 81 mph, but had just previously accelerated to 103, police said. The speed limit on Eastern Avenue, near Flamingo Road, is 45 mph.

Alderette, who was charged with a rare murder count, pleaded guilty in November and will serve 26 to 65 years in state prison.

Metro last year began a social media campaign in which traffic bureau command staff gets in front of a cellphone camera and records videos warning of the dangers of impaired and distracted driving, and speeding.

The Nevada Highway Patrol and Metro recently implemented a DUI strike team of officers who patrol problem areas trying to catch suspected impaired drivers. In less than two months, the team had arrested more than 150 suspects.

Bicycle fatalities in Nevada were down 11 percent, while pedestrian deaths dipped 23 percent, the Department of Public Safety said. Deaths involving motorists and unrestrained occupants of vehicles were both up 23 percent.

Officials also released a report on fatal crashes involving alcohol and drugs in Nevada in 2017. In Clark County, alcohol contributed to 32 deaths, pot to 22, and other drugs to six.

On a positive note, pedestrian deaths dropped after nine years of increases, according to the report.

However, Metro had already investigated three serious pedestrian-involved crashes just four days into the new year, which killed two people and critically injured the third.

“This is a violent, dangerous trend that we’re moving on right now and we need to change,” a traffic officer said in the social-media video. “And the only way we can do that is if we look out for each other.”