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Henderson police urge drivers to slow down after recent deadly crashes

Updated March 9, 2022 - 5:05 pm

Henderson police urged drivers to slow down after two people were killed Monday by suspected speeding drivers in the city.

“I’m appealing to our community and those that are driving on our roadways to simply slow down, obey our traffic regulations,” Henderson Police Department Chief Thedrick Andres said Wednesday morning. “More importantly, have respect for those that share the roadway with you.”

Tuimanino Alailefaleula, 44, of Henderson died Monday after his Jeep was rear-ended at Eastern Avenue and St. Rose Parkway, causing the Jeep to burst into flames.

Alailefaleula escaped the burning SUV, but died at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center from inhalation and thermal injuries, according to the Clark County coroner’s office.

Henderson police Capt. Kirk Moore said Wednesday they suspect the driver of a 2010 Lexus was speeding and not paying attention when they rear ended the Jeep.

Monday evening, 13-year-old Rex Patchett of Henderson was struck by a 2006 Ford Mustang while Rex was walking on the sidewalk near the 100 block of East Paradise Hills Drive.

“Heartbreakingly, he could not be saved,” Moore said Wednesday, tearing up.

The boy was less than a block from Mannion Middle School, where family said he attended.

Police said the driver, whose name had not been released, was speeding when they lost control of the vehicle and drove up on the sidewalk.

Moore said the driver was not suspected of impairment, so he was not arrested at the scene of the crash. Detectives are completing an investigation and Moore said they will submit the case to the district attorney for possible prosecution.

“I am extremely disheartened when I have to stand before you today regarding a 13-year-old who was walking along our sidewalks in our community and loses his life because of reckless driving behavior,” Andres said.

Fatality statistics

Henderson fatal detail Sgt. Roger Matuszak said the department has investigated five fatal crashes this year, including Monday’s tragedies.

Two of the other three crashes were the fault of pedestrian error and one was caused by an impaired driver, Matuszak said.

On Feb. 11, a man was fatally struck by an out of service RTC bus near the 700 block of East Horizon Drive. The man died last week, police said.

The Clark County coroner’s office had not identified the man as of Wednesday.

Souheil Medyati, 59, died Feb. 14 after police said he stepped into the roadway and was stuck by a black Dodge Charger at South Broadbent Boulevard and Boulder Highway.

Michael Panarella, 32, was arrested last month after police said he swerved out of his lane and struck a Chevrolet SUV, pushing the SUV into a wall near Warm Springs Road and Norlina Court.

The driver, who as not immediately identified by the coroner’s office, died weeks later.

Henderson police did not count the death of 40-year-old Sylvia Pennamon, who died on Jan. 12, when she was fatally struck by Henderson Police Sgt. Francis Shipp’s vehicle while she was attempting to cross the street at Boulder Highway and Tulip Falls Drive.

Matuszak said the department uses data to determine problem areas that needed added patrol or traffic enforcement. St. Rose was one of those problem areas, he said.

So far this year Henderson police have made 8,556 traffic stops and issued 1,758 spending citations, but Matuszak said drivers can make a much bigger difference than the traffic officers.

“If people can control the way they drive it’s going to solve a lot more problems than our enforcement efforts will,” he said.

Last year marked the deadliest year on Nevada roadways since 2006, with 382 traffic fatalities.

Andrew Bennett, director of the Clark County Office of Traffic Safety, said his preliminary count showed 39 people had died in crashes in the county as of March 1, a 25 percent increase over last year’s numbers.

Clark County’s largest police department, the Metropolitan Police Department posts weekly statistics on fatal crashes.

The department had responded to at least 23 fatal crashes as of Wednesday, including a crash Tuesday night involving a suspected impaired driver who attempted to run away.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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