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UNLV recruit Zaon Collins high on marijuana at time of fatal crash, DA says

Updated January 7, 2021 - 10:39 am

A star UNLV basketball recruit was charged with two felonies Thursday after blood tests indicated he was impaired on marijuana at the time of a Dec. 30 vehicle crash that killed a 52-year-old Las Vegas man.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Suzan Baucum waived Zaon Collins’ appearance after the filing of a criminal complaint formally charging him with reckless driving and driving under the influence causing death.

Collins, 19, remained free on “the highest level” of electronic monitoring.

“Zaon maintains his innocence and is entitled to a fair and just court process in determining all of the circumstances of the accident,” Collins’ attorneys, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, said in a statement. “His case will be decided by the rule of law and not by media speculation or emotional reactions.”

A Las Vegas police arrest report for Collins said he was speeding in the moments before the Dodge Challenger he was driving slammed into a car driven by Eric Echevarria, 52, of Las Vegas, near Fort Apache Road and Blue Diamond Road. Echevarria later died at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. Police also said they found a substance believed to be marijuana in Collins’ vehicle.

The office of Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said a blood test showed Collins had an amount of THC in his system at the time of the crash that is above the legal limit permitted in Nevada. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the active ingredient found in marijuana.

“The DUI charge stems from the fact that Mr. Collins tested positive for 3.0 ng/ML of THC (marijuana,)” the district attorney’s office said in a statement. “Anything above 2.0 ng/ML is considered impaired.”

A Las Vegas police arrest report said data secured from Collins’ vehicle indicated he was driving at 88 mph in a 35 mph zone seconds prior to the crash. Wolfson’s office said Thursday police determined Collins was driving at 85 mph prior to the crash, and the speed was 60 mph at the moment of impact.

“Here we are once more talking about the tragic and avoidable loss of one of our residents because of the senseless actions of an impaired driver,” Wolfson said. “Regardless of your age or status in our community, if you cause the death of another person because you were acting recklessly and driving impaired, my office will seek justice.”

Las Vegas Justice Court records show Collins has been cited four times for traffic violations, including two for speeding, since 2017. He has one speeding conviction on file with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, according to DMV records.

Collins was a point guard at Bishop Gorman High and was considered a four-star prospect. He also had recruitment interest from Arizona State, Arizona and Southern California.

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 17.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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