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Tanaga Miller was looking for a ride. He ended up dying in the state’s deadliest crash.

Updated February 9, 2022 - 8:56 pm

The afternoon Tanaga Miller died in a car crash, he had been looking for a ride. Within an hour of leaving a family gathering, he and eight others were dead.

How Miller ended up a passenger in the Dodge Challenger that sped through a red light at more than 100 mph on a North Las Vegas street last month is still a mystery to his relatives.

“We don’t know the driver. We don’t know how they knew each other,” said Miller’s sister LaShonda Warfield. “All I know is that when everything ended, people were hurt, people died, and I lost my big brother.”

Miller’s family said they think he got a ride with 59-year-old Gary Dean Robinson just a short time before police said Robinson caused the deadliest crash on Nevada roadways in at least three decades.

On the afternoon of Jan. 29, he had asked his sister Christina Stingley for a ride. Instead, he walked to his mother’s house, which was the last place his family saw him alive and was less than two miles from the scene of the crash.

His family said they think he was walking home and ran into Robinson.

“Only God, that man and my brother know what happened,” she said. “I just wish he never left home that day.”

Miller lived with his sister and grandmother two stoplights away from the intersection at Cheyenne Avenue and Commerce Street, where the fatal wreck occurred.

Police say Robinson blew through the intersection, hitting a family’s minivan, killing seven members of the same household,

Robinson and Miller, 46, who was in the passenger seat, also died. Four others were injured in the six-vehicle wreck.

“So many lives lost in the snap of the finger,” Warfield said. “My brother was a victim. He was trapped in a car speeding at 100 miles an hour. What was he to do?”

The people who knew Miller best say they never met Robinson and aren’t sure if the two men even knew each other. Miller had just suffered a stroke in September, and he had to quit the two jobs he was working.

He wanted to get back to work but was still going to speech therapy. He couldn’t drive because he had trouble seeing and had lost function in his left arm. He often walked everywhere or relied on others to get places.

At the time of his death, he had just gone through a breakup and he was focused on his family.

His life wasn’t perfect, Warfield said. He had made some mistakes and had been to prison several times. After he was released in 2020 on an attempted robbery conviction, his family said he strived to turn his life around for the better.

On Tuesday, his siblings broke down in tears at their mother’s small blue house in North Las Vegas. In front of them, gift baskets and flowers filled the coffee table. They needed to discuss how they would afford to bury their brother.

His mother, Cynthia Miller, recalled the last time she saw her son. She had been sick in bed, and he came to check on her.

“He gave me a big hug, and he said, ‘mama, I love you so much,’” she said. “I never thought that would be the last time I saw my son.”

She described him as a lovable, kind-hearted man that wouldn’t hesitate to help his family. He was a father to three kids, and his youngest was 14. He also had one grandson.

Over the weekend, Warfield drove past the accident scene for the first time. People had gathered for a vigil to honor the victims.

She thought about what his last moments might have been like. Her brother would always tell them to slow down when he was in the car. Tears welled in her eyes. It was too hurtful.

“He loved his life; he wasn’t foolish like that,” she said.

Warfield said she wants to urge drivers to slow down. Last year, Nevada ticketed thousands of drivers for going 100 mph or more.

Warfield and her brother were the two oldest children of the family. They had grown up together in Las Vegas and attended Valley High School. There was a large gap between them and their five younger siblings, who they had helped raise.

And only a few weeks earlier, their younger sister, Caryn, was in the hospital on a ventilator, and the family was preparing for the worst.

“Nothing’s going to happen to my sister, she’s going to be OK,” he said, keeping the family positive. “I don’t even want to be here planning this right now.”

Warfield remembers her brother’s smirk, his husky build and Teddy bear hugs, and the way he’d brighten up when he called her “Shonda girl.”

His other sister, Jessica Stingley, remembered how he would always make it known he was their big brother, everywhere they went.

“He’d always say, ‘that’s my sisters,’ he’d say it hard, too,” she said, laughing. “He made sure all of us were well taken care of.”

He often checked in on his mother and grandmother, and always wore a large silver cross around his neck, but it was not found at the scene of the crash.

Miller’s family said their hearts go out to the families of the other victims in the crash and have scheduled the memorial service for him at 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 21 at Portals to Glory church in North Las Vegas. They are also raising money for funeral expenses through a GoFundMe.

As for the crash, Miller’s family said authorities are still investigating it.

“I’m hoping for answers. I don’t know if we’ll get them,” Warfield said. “But I’m praying for them all the time.”

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter.

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