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3 family members killed in fiery Las Vegas crash identified

Updated December 27, 2019 - 6:46 pm

An online fundraiser has identified three people killed in a fiery crash in the western Las Vegas Valley on Thursday evening as members of three generations of women, including a 4-year-old granddaughter.

The GoFundMe page was created by a woman who said she is a cousin to Donna Martinez, 48. The woman identified Martinez as one of the three people killed in the crash, caused by a driver who Las Vegas police said sped through a red light and struck a vehicle at Durango Drive and Desert Inn Road.

The other two are identified by the GoFundMe page as Martinez’s 29-year-old daughter, Amanda Martinez, and her granddaughter, 4-year-old Layla Martinez-White. The Clark County coroner’s office had not released the names of the deceased as of Friday.

Attempts to reach the creator of the GoFundMe page, Melinda Chacon, were not immediately successful. But the page was shared with the Review-Journal by a GoFundMe spokesperson and had collected more than $16,000 toward its $30,000 goal by Friday evening to assist with funeral costs.

“Losing one family member is a tragedy in itself but losing three to reckless driving is just gut wrenching,” Chacon wrote.

Las Vegas police said a 39-year-old man in a 2016 Mazda 6 was driving east on Desert Inn at an “excessive rate of speed” and hit the center median west of the intersection.

The Mazda continued east and rear-ended a 2017 Dodge Journey with five occupants that was stopped in the inside left turn lane to Durango, police said. The crash damaged seven vehicles, and witnesses bravely assisted victims, said Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Jason Letkiewicz.

“The citizens who went out and put their own lives at risk were able to remove two people from the vehicle that currently has three victims in it, so instead of five people dead in that vehicle, there were only three because people were brave enough to move forth and pull those people out of that vehicle,” he said Thursday night.

Chacon wrote that Donna Martinez’s son, Emilio Martinez, 17, and another granddaughter, Destiny Martinez-White, 10, were also in the vehicle and were injured. Both are in the hospital with “broken bones and severe burns,” she wrote.

Police have said that two juveniles suffered critical burns.

‘Two of a kind’

Jeremiah White, 31, told the Review-Journal that Layla and Destiny were his children — two of three he had with Amanda Martinez. He said the family was traveling to pick up a relative from work. His son, Jayden, did not ride with the family and called White when no one in the vehicle would pick up their phone.

White confirmed details from the GoFundMe and said he knew Chacon as a relative of Donna Martinez and had met her before.

He said he and Amanda Martinez broke up about five months ago, and he now lives in Iowa. He said he heard from a family member a few hours after the crash about what had happened but did not learn about all fatalities until early Friday.

“I kind of knew something was up,” he said.

He said Destiny was badly burned and in a medically induced coma to reduce swelling, adding that he was told she had been pulled out of the burning wreckage.

Destiny and Layla were “two of a kind,” acted like twins and often wore matching clothes, he said.

Layla “was just an outstanding girl, polite, respectful, just a wonderful little girl,” he said. “Everybody that came around her always talked good about her, always loved her.”

And Destiny is a “goofball at heart, always trying to crack a joke to make you laugh.”

“My head’s just blank on everything,” he said, adding that he plans to return to Las Vegas as soon as possible.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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