DAYTON – A pedestrian was killed Thursday after a driver apparently took his eyes off the road to open a pack of beef jerky for his children, authorities said.
Paul Leon Dessaussois, 36, a casino worker from Dayton, was waiting to cross Highway 50 East in front of the Red Hawk Casino when a Jeep Cherokee driven by Steven Anthony Mason, 46, of Carson City, stopped at the crosswalk about 12:25 p.m., according to Trooper Blair Harkleroad of the Nevada Highway Patrol.
Just as Dessaussois walked in front of Mason’s vehicle, a Toyota pickup driven by 30-year-old Ronald Shane Sanemeterio of Dayton slammed into the Cherokee, pushing it into the crosswalk and striking Dessaussois. He was pronounced dead at the scene, Harkleroad said.
Sanemeterio told authorities he was opening a package of beef jerky for his two children when he slammed into the Jeep. The children, Sanemeterio and Mason all walked away unhurt from the collision.
Depot and Red Hawk casino president Clete Wandler said part of Dessaussois’ job in the slot department was to cross the five-lane highway and pay off cash jackpots at both casinos during his shift.
Wandler said he offered to pay half the cost of a stoplight at the intersection, but the Nevada Department of Transportation declined.
“They could have put a light in here long ago and prevented this. They’ve studied it for five years,” he said. “We all know the traffic here is ugly.”
A petition was also circulated at one time and, despite many signatures in support of installing a stoplight at Pike Street and Highway 50, one never came, he said.
The speed limit through Dayton proper is posted at 35 mph.
“But people go more like 50, there’s no doubt,” Wandler said.
“The traffic control through here is ridiculous,” said Lyon County Sheriff Sgt. Jim Cupp, who was called to the scene by Dessaussois’ wife, Dawn. She was called to the scene by friends. “The five lanes here makes traffic flow smoother, but it also makes traffic flow faster.”
The Cupps’ children and the Dessaussois’ three sons, ranging in age from high school to kindergarten, are friends, he said. The two families have known each other for years.
“He was a hard worker – a real helpful guy,” Cupp said.
Measurements to estimate Sanemeterio’s speed were not immediately available, but he told police he was going 35-40 mph, Harkleroad said.
Trooper Mark Zacha pointed out the accident was so sudden, Sanemeterio didn’t have time to apply his brakes.
Sanemeterio voluntarily submitted to a blood draw to determine if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Harkleroad said. Charges are pending the completion of the investigation.
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