Thursday, March 25, 2021 | 2 a.m.
Metro Police’s Traffic Bureau has been called out to Las Vegas roadways six times this year to probe pedestrian deaths caused by hit-and-run drivers.
Two of the incidents remain unsolved.
“That’s two people who aren’t coming home. That could have been any of you, or me, who didn’t come home,” Metro Police Lt. Greg Munson said.
The department veteran didn’t mince his words when describing the apathy and cruelty of the drivers’ actions: “These are people, and they’re dying on our roadways, lying there, bleeding to death. And nobody did anything.”
In one of the unsolved hit-and-run incidents, a maroon or burgundy SUV struck a 63-year-old while traveling eastbound Feb. 20 on Twain Avenue at Palos Verdes Street.
In the other, a man was hit on Lake Mead Boulevard, near Lincoln Road, and fled the scene about 8:50 p.m. March 14. The vehicle is believed to be a 2007-2009 Toyota Camry — it was identified because of parts at the scene that fell off during the collision.
But police say they are out of additional leads and need the public’s help to jail the suspects.
With fatality investigations, “it’s not like TV where we can zoom in and enhance and solve everything with a grainy, blurry video that we have,” said Metro Detective Kenneth Salisbury, who has been investigating fatal crashes for 15 years.
The victims, who both died at hospitals, could’ve been saved if the drivers had stayed behind to render aid and call 911, Munson said.
In both cases, the pedestrians were at fault, and had the suspects stayed, and weren’t impaired, they could have avoided serious charges for their deaths, police said.
In most cases, even with the pedestrians at fault, “if that driver had been going a little slower, many, many of these could be avoided,” Salisbury said.
Now, the two suspects face felony counts that carry prison sentences of up to 20 years in prison, the same as DUI suspects who kill someone on the road, Salisbury said.
It’s not always clear why drivers flee crashes, though most fatalities are caused by speeding and impairment, Salisbury said.
“False” excuses Metro hears from fleeing suspects include fear of being jailed for outstanding warrants or concerns over suspended driver’s licenses, Munson said.
“We are on a path that we don’t want to continue, we want to stop this” and it’s up to the entire community, Munson said.