Vehicle plows into Nevada casino; 2 dead, 8 hurt
LAS VEGAS (AP) – A speeding car crashed through the entrance of a casino and into a bank of slot machines Wednesday in the southern Nevada resort town of Laughlin, killing two patrons and injuring at least eight other people, authorities said.
The driver, a 70-year-old man, told investigators he fainted while driving toward the Edgewater Hotel & Casino on the Colorado River waterfront, Las Vegas police Officer Jacinto Rivera said.
Witnesses said the Pontiac Vibe drove through a red light, crossed Casino Drive and careened down a horseshoe-shaped driveway into the 26-story hotel.
“Slot machines were just everywhere, just wiped out, tumbled and tossed,” said Bill Kinsey, fire division chief in Bullhead City, Ariz., across the river from Laughlin.
The 2,700-pound car came to rest about 35 feet inside the casino between the hotel registration desk and a cashier cage. One of the people killed was wedged beneath the car and slot machines, Kinsey said.
Joe Magliarditi, the casino’s chief operating officer, said he had heard the car was going at least 60 mph.
The name of the driver and his hometown in Washington state were not immediately released. None of the victims were identified.
Rivera said there was no evidence the driver applied the brakes before the crash.
Investigators planned to examine the vehicle for mechanical malfunctions. Depending on the results, the man could face felony charges including reckless driving causing death, Rivera said.
The 2007 Vibe involved in the crash was not part of two Toyota recalls that recently affected millions of cars in the United States because of a risk of unintended acceleration.
The car, however, is a joint venture of Toyota and General Motors Co., and the 2009 and 2010 models were recalled last month because of a risk of the driver-side floor mat trapping the gas pedal, causing unintended acceleration.
General Motors spokesman Tom Wilkinson said the design of the Vibe changed significantly between the 2008 and 2009 model years. The 2007 Vibe has an excellent overall safety record, he said.
“We’ve had good luck with that car,” Wilkinson said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not have any defects or recalls for the 2007 Vibe listed in its database.
Six of the people injured in the crash were taken to Western Arizona Regional Medical Center in Bullhead City. Hospital spokeswoman Sarah Morga said one was admitted in stable condition. Two others with more serious injuries were flown to the trauma center at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. Three other people were treated and released.
The driver was treated for minor injuries and questioned at the scene by police. At least two other people were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
Kinsey said power was immediately shut off to the casino, which was evacuated after the crash. It did not appear that guests at the 1,200-room hotel were asked to leave the building, he said.
Kinsey expected casino security videotapes would show details of the crash.
“Those poor people, just minding their own business, and they get plowed over by a vehicle,” he said. “I don’t think they ever saw it coming.”
Officer Barbara Morgan said police at the scene reported that alcohol or drugs did not appear to be factors in the crash.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department covers most of Clark County, including Laughlin, about 100 miles south of Las Vegas.
Associated Press Writer Oskar Garcia in Las Vegas contributed to this report.