Mound House man latest victim in series of fatal accidents in Carson Valley

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MINDEN - A Mound House man has been identified as the person killed Monday in an accident at Highway 395 and Airport Road in Minden.

Jeffrey Gray, 41, was pronounced dead at the 5:51 p.m. accident, according to Trooper Mike Edgell.

Edgell said a teal 1995 Chevrolet Camaro driven by Juvenal Pineda, 18, of Smith Valley, attempted to make a left-hand turn onto southbound Highway 395 and collided in the fast lane with Gray's northbound 1992 red Subaru station wagon.

Edgell said Pineda failed to yield the right of way. Both vehicles were heavily damaged.

The driver of the northbound Subaru, Mound House resident Gray was pronounced dead at the scene.

Pineda, 18, suffered minor cuts and bruises, said Edgell.

There were no passengers in either car.

Portions of northbound 395 were closed, with mostly one-lane traffic until around 8:24 p.m.

The accident is still under investigation and no citations have been issued. Any witnesses can call Trooper Robert Haigney at (775) 687-0400.

The accident sparked an immediate outcry in online forums for a traffic signal to be installed at the intersection of Airport and 395, particularly among those who have to commute off Airport Road.

"This was a tragic accident," said Kim Busch, who works at AVK off Airport Road and goes through the intersection daily. "The county and state really need to get a light installed at 395 and Airport.

"They approve all of our businesses' building large facilities that can employ hundreds of citizens, so they should make sure the road system can safely handle the traffic. We have to submit annual reports to the county proving we have enough parking spots for the number of employees and the size of our facility, so why don't they do the same for the number of businesses and employees and road conditions?"

Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Magruder said Tuesday that the intersection doesn't meet the criteria for a traffic signal, as there are lights at Stephanie Way and Johnson Lane.

Criteria for traffic lights include vehicle volume, pedestrian volume, proximity to schools, coordinated signal system, crash history and roadway networks.

"When you're talking about criteria, people say, 'What about lives?'" Magruder said. "But lives are still lost at intersections (with traffic lights)."

He said a series of traffic lights such as exists on Pyramid Way in Sparks can result in fender-benders and drivers' running lights.

A light at Airport Road in Minden would give that stretch of 395 three signals in less than three miles of 65-mph roadway.

"You don't want to say, we're going to fix these problems, when it could create other problems down the road," Magruder said.

He said that when the Highway 395 night-paving project gets under way, traffic will be affected.

"We're asking motorists to be aware of that," he said.

He said the increase in accidents would be reviewed by NDOT.

"There may be better signage or something we can do," Magruder said.

County Commission Chairman Mike Olson said Tuesday that there wasn't much the county could do because Highway 395 is under the Nevada Department of Transportation.

"The problem is we have a freeway running through our community without the option of off-ramps," Olson said.

He also said Carson Valley is a community in transition with increased traffic and more new residents.

"What's terrible is that the people who are getting hurt or killed in these accidents are our citizens and visitors to our community," Olson said. "I'd sure be open to any solution people have."


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