Two people are dead following a “catastrophic” crash involving a wrong-way driver Thursday night on Interstate 15 south of Las Vegas.
It is the fourth wrong-way crash in a month and the second deadly wrong-way crash in a week on Southern Nevada roadways.
The Nevada Highway Patrol received multiple calls about a wrong-way driver beginning around 9:55 p.m., according to NHP spokesman Jason Buratczuk.
A 42-year-old man driving an Oldsmobile was heading northbound in the southbound lanes of Interstate 15 at mile marker 3 north of Primm when the crash occurred, Buratczuk said, adding the driver had a Primm address.
A man driving a Chevy Express van, who was traveling in the left-hand lane, was hit and forced into the desert.
The Clark County Coroner’s Office identified one of the two killed in the crash as John L. Camilo, 51, of Valley Village, California, but did not specify which vehicle he was in. The release of the name of the second person killed in the crash was awaiting notification of next of kin early Friday.
“We did have troopers in the area and they were dispatched to the scene,” Buratczuk said. “However our trooper made it here just seconds after the crash happened. When he got on scene we did have two fatalities, one in each vehicle.”
The wrong-way driver was not wearing a seat belt, however that didn’t play a factor because both vehicles were going about 70 mph, resulting in a crash that was catastrophic and “pretty much unsurvivable.”
NHP did not know as of 3 a.m. if drugs or alcohol were involved.
Headlights were off
“At this point we don’t know if it’s impairment, what this gentleman’s mental status was,” Buratczuk said. “We just don’t know why he was wrong way. We do believe that his headlights were off when this crash happened. So that would make it very hard for the gentleman who was going southbound to see this driver.”
The interstate was reopened shortly before 3 a.m.
The deadly crash occurred just two days after a 39-year-old Henderson man died in a wrong-way crash on the same highway. A 75-year-old woman was critically injured in Henderson on Nov. 22 in a two-vehicle crash in which impairment was suspected. On Nov. 14 — also in the northbound lanes of I-15 — a suspected drunken driver traveling the wrong way was killed in a multivehicle crash.
Pilot program begins
The Nevada Department of Transportation is implementing a pilot program to deter wrong-way drivers. The system is being installed at the U.S. Highway 95 off-ramp at Durango Drive in the northwest Las Vegas Valley. The system uses a camera and an electronic sensor, which alerts wrong-way drivers on the off-ramp by triggering strobe-like beacons on wrong-way signs. The system is expected to be ready in early 2020.
From 2005 to 2015, there were 409 wrong-way crashes in Nevada resulting in 75 deaths.