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Reckless driver blamed for multi-vehicle injury crash in south valley

Updated February 24, 2021 - 3:32 pm

Las Vegas police said five people were injured, two critically, in a Wednesday morning crash caused by a reckless driver in the southern valley.

A Nevada Highway Patrol trooper tried to stop a 2008 Lexus ES 350 for speeding recklessly near Decatur Boulevard and the 215 Beltway at around 7 a.m., but the driver continued to speed on, according to Highway Patrol and a statement from the Metropolitan Police Department.

Highway Patrol spokeswoman Ashlee Wellmansaid the trooper stopped chasing the car after the driver of the Lexus ran through a red light and continued to speed away.

“Our trooper came to a stop with his lights deactivated, and no siren, on Warm Springs (Road) and Decatur,” Wellman said.

Investigators determined the driver, later identified as 30-year-old Tara Cheatham, tried to pass another car while going eastbound on Warm Springs near Arville Street shortly after driving off from the trooper, Metro said.

She reportedly crashed into the car in front of her and two vehicles driving westbound, injuring herself and four other people, police said.

Wellman said the NHP trooper was not pursuing the Lexus at the time of the crash.

“The reckless driver split between a vehicle traveling the same direction they were traveling and an oncoming vehicle – trying to go between them, trying to split the lanes in the middle,” Las Vegas police Lt. Greg Munson said said at the scene.

Munson added that speed was “a primary factor in why this crash is so devastating.”

Cheatham and 21-year-old Marcelo Lopez were taken to University Medical Center’s trauma center where they remained in critical condition Wednesday afternoon. Three other people involved in the crash suffered minor injuries.

Munson urged motorists across the valley to slow down.

“Everybody in our community has to take responsibility and ownership,” Munson said. “If you are getting stopped by the police, stop. A red light ticket is nothing. If you have warrants, we will handle it. We will get through it. It’s not the end of the world. But this could be the end of the world for somebody.”

A Metro news release on the crash did not mention suspicion of impairment. Detectives continue to investigate the wreck.

Contact Glenn Puit at gpuit@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0390. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter. Review-Journal reporter Sabrina Schnur contributed to this report.

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