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Wrong-way driver forces closure of 215 Beltway in Summerlin area

Updated January 28, 2022 - 2:59 pm

A portion of the 215 Beltway was closed in the Summerlin area Friday after Las Vegas police stopped a wrong-way driver, according to police and a witness.

The Regional Transportation Commission tweeted a traffic alert at 1:44 p.m. The agency attributed the closure to “police activity on Western Beltway” at Sahara Avenue, noting “freeway closed.”

Las Vegas police wrote in a media alert that at 1:10 p.m., dispatchers received a report of a wrong-way driver in a bronze, four-door station wagon at the intersection of Fort Apache Road and Lake North Drive, which is near Sahara. The vehicle, police said, nearly hit some pedestrians.

“Multiple phone calls were received by LVMPD Dispatch advising of collisions involving the suspect vehicle,” police said.

Witness Joe Whitaker told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a phone interview that shortly after 1:30 p.m., he was driving his vehicle south on the Beltway, near the Sahara offramp, as he headed to pick up his son at Bishop Gorman High School. As he drove, he saw two police cars ahead in the distance, then saw an older station-wagon-type vehicle headed directly at him.

“He was about 100 yards, maybe a football field away, and it looked like he swerved to hit a car on purpose, and he swerved back to me, and he was trying to hit me on purpose,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker was able to avoid colliding head-on with the wrong-way driver by instantly steering his vehicle to the side of the road. Within seconds, Las Vegas police vehicles approached and carried out what is known as a pit maneuver on the wrong-way vehicle, causing it to crash.

The witness said police then pulled the driver out of his vehicle and arrested him.

“I looked right at him, heavy-set white male with long curly hair,” said Whitaker, who praised the police officers involved.

Police confirmed they arrested the wrong-way driver.

“This investigation involves multiple victims, in multiple vehicles, in various locations,” police wrote in the alert. “Please be advised this may cause traffic delays.”

It was not clear Friday if anyone was seriously injured.

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

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