Canadians among the injured in Las Vegas crash

LAS VEGAS -- One person was killed and several Canadians were among the more than two dozen people injured after a car crashed into pedestrians on a sidewalk Sunday night on the Las Vegas Strip.

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A woman intentionally swerved her car onto the busy sidewalk two or three times, police said.

The vehicle was in the northbound lanes of Las Vegas Boulevard near Bellagio Way when it mounted the sidewalk in front of the Paris Hotel & Casino and struck pedestrians, including 37 people who were taken to the hospital, police said. One person was killed, six were in critical condition, 26 injured and four were treated and released, Lt. Peter Boffelli said.

Danita Cohen, spokeswoman for University Medical Center, said 11 of the crash victims, including at least five Canadians, were brought to its trauma centre. Cohen said a Canadian was among three victims listed in critical condition.

At least two of the injured Canadians, a man and a woman, were from Montreal, and were in need of French translators, she said.

Cohen noted the crash victims were being treated for head injuries, cuts and broken bones.

Las Vegas Police Capt. Brett Zimmerman told a news conference late Sunday night that while "terrorism" had been ruled out, the crash appears to be intentional.

The driver apparently drove onto the sidewalk, hitting pedestrians, then went back into the street before driving onto the sidewalk again at a different spot of Las Vegas Boulevard, hitting others, Zimmerman said. Police are reviewing video from casino-hotel surveillance cameras.

"We know this was not an act of terrorism," he said. "We will comb through that footage to get a detailed idea of what occurred. Right now from what we know, we're looking at it possibly being intentional."

The driver of the car, a woman, was not hurt and is in custody at the Clark County Jail, police said. A 3-year-old child was in the vehicle with her but was not hurt, Zimmerman said.

Lt. Dan McGrath said the 1996 Oldsmobile was not registered to Nevada and the driver had recently moved to the area.

After the crash, the vehicle continued to drive east on Flamingo Road before it was found at a hotel, McGrath said. The driver is being investigated to determine whether she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol

The pedestrians were not in the road and were not at fault, McGrath said.

Justin Cochrane, a property manager from Santa Barbara, California, said he was having dinner at a sidewalk restaurant outside the Paris Hotel and across the street from the famous Bellagio Fountain when the incident took place.

The car appeared to be going 30 to 40 mph when it first hit the pedestrians on Las Vegas Boulevard, Cochrane said. "It was just massacring people," he said.

The vehicle then went further down the road and backed into another crowd of pedestrians, he said.

Cochrane said he couldn't understand why the car went into the crowd a second time. "Why would it slow to go around and then accelerate again?" he said. "I thought it's a crazy person."

Cochrane said he saw children and adults injured and on the ground as the car drove away.

Clark County Fire Chief Greg Cassell said the call for help came in at 6:38 p.m. and 70 emergency crew workers were sent to the scene.

The crash in front of the Paris and Planet Hollywood hotels occurred on a busy stretch of the Las Vegas Strip across from the dancing water fountains of the Bellagio hotel-casino where visitors crowd sidewalks as they was walk from one casino to another. The Miss Universe pageant was being held nearby at the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort & Casino at the time.

Joel Ortega, 31, of Redlands, California, said he and his wife, Carla, were in Las Vegas for the weekend and found themselves blocked from walking on the sidewalk toward the Paris Hotel & Casino. They could see police investigating about a block away from the scene of the crash.

"At first, I thought it was a movie shoot," Joel Ortega said, "I thought maybe we'd see someone famous."

But then they learned that it was a crash scene. Ortega said it made them remember how their neighbourhood was disrupted after the Dec. 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, near their home.

The Clark County Fire Department said in a statement that up to 50 people were given care by 70 emergency crew workers.

Those in critical condition were being treated at University Medical Center and Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center.

Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center spokeswoman Stacy Acquista said 11 adults were in good condition as of 9 p.m.

On Oct. 24, a woman was accused of driving into a crowd during Oklahoma State's homecoming parade in Stillwater. Four people were killed, including a 2-year-old boy, and more than 40 were hurt. The driver, 25-year-old Adacia Chambers of Stillwater, was this month found competent to stand trial on four counts of second-degree murder and 46 counts of assault.

With files from The Canadian Press



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