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Man pleaded guilty to speeding 9 days before crash that killed 9

Updated January 31, 2022 - 8:21 pm

The motorist who caused the Saturday crash that killed nine people, including himself, had been cited for speeding at least five times in the past 15 months in Southern Nevada.

Gary Dean Robinson, 59, pleaded guilty to one of those speeding citations nine days before authorities said he ran a red light at more than 100 mph, causing the six-vehicle North Las Vegas wreck that also left four others injured.

“I was informed he does have multiple speeding citations and other traffic offenses on his record,” North Las Vegas police spokesman Alexander Cuevas said.

On Monday, the Clark County coroner’s office released the identity of the ninth victim killed in the crash. Tanaga Ravel Miller, 46, of North Las Vegas died while riding in a Dodge Challenger driven by Robinson, of North Las Vegas.

Court records show that Robinson received a speeding ticket from Las Vegas police on Dec. 9. He entered a guilty plea to driving 1 to 10 mph over the speed limit on Jan. 20 and was fined $150.

North Las Vegas police said Robinson was driving a Dodge Challenger when he blew through the intersection of Cheyenne Avenue and Commerce Street and his car slammed into a minivan.

In August 2021, Las Vegas police cited Robinson for traveling 55 mph in a 35 mph zone of Durango Drive near its intersection with Alta Drive, records show.

He was cited three more times for speeding between November 2020 and February 2021, according to North Las Vegas Municipal Court records. Those citations included driving 80 mph in a 65 mph zone on Interstate 15, and driving 67 mph in a 45 mph zone near the intersection of Centennial Parkway and Walnut Road. While the February ticket from the Nevada Highway Patrol stated that “radar showed vehicle traveling 91 mph” on the interstate, Robinson was cited for traveling 11 to 20 mph over the posted speed limit.

Henderson Municipal Court records also indicate that Robinson was cited by Henderson police in 2017 for speeding.

Robinson was ticketed for driving 86 mph in a 65 mph zone at U.S. Highway 95 and Lake Mead Boulevard on May 17, 2017. In that case, he also received a citation for driving 11 to 20 mph over the posted speed limit. The case was resolved in April 2019 when Robinson agreed to pay a $198 fine for a parking violation.

Robinson also has several prior arrests in the Las Vegas Valley. He has prior convictions in Clark County District Court for battery on an officer and drug charges.

Also killed in the crash were Toyota Sienna minivan occupants Fernando Yeshua Mejia, 5; Adrian Zacarias, 10; Rain Daylenn Zacarias, 13; Bryan Axel Zacarias, 15; Gabriel Mejia-Barrera, 23; David Mejia-Barrera, 25; and Jose Zacarias-Caldera, 35. All were from North Las Vegas.

A group of National Transportation Safety Board members, including three investigators, arrived in Las Vegas on Monday to conduct their own investigation of the crash.

NTSB member Tom Chapman called the magnitude of the crash “rare” but noted the federal agency routinely investigates aviation incidents and significant road and rail crashes, as well.

“This tragedy is an extreme example to be sure,” Chapman said. “But speeding at any magnitude unquestionably increases the risk to safety.”

The national officials will be in Southern Nevada for a week while they carry out their investigation, which is part of a larger project the agency is involved with focused on speeding and its threat to safety, Chapman said.

“Our mission is to understand not just what happened, but why it happened,” Chapman said. “And to recommend changes to prevent it from happening again.”

The transportation safety agency is focusing on scene reconstruction, the vehicles involved in the crash and survivability, but the agency won’t determine the probable cause of the crash during their time in North Las Vegas, Chapman said. Factoring in Robinson’s driving record and other aspects will be part of the research.

“We will be looking at the history of the driver and other factors, not just in terms of his driving history, but other factors like what he was doing in the last 24 to 36 hours,” Chapman said. “What other factors may have impacted the driver’s performance.”

Aside from investigators, the agency deployed a specialist from its office of transportation disaster assistance, to provide those affected by the crash both immediate and long-term support.

Chapman noted that in 2019 there were 4,478 fatalities in the U.S. tied to crashes where at least one driver was speeding, representing 26 percent of all traffic fatalities that year. He also noted there was an 11 percent increase in speeding-related fatalities between 2019 and 2020.

Nevada’s 2021 highway safety plan identified multiple areas of emphasis including speed and intersection crashes.

The transportation safety agency is also emphasizing efforts to eliminate speed-related crashes in its 2021-2022 Most Wanted List, which highlights the top safety issues.

“Our focus is developing performance standards for advanced speed-limiting and intelligent speed adaptation devices,” Chapman said.

The agency is also looking into the safety impact high-performance vehicles have on the road and how speed limits are set on various roads. There have been multiple fatal crashes involving high-performance vehicles in Las Vegas in recent months, including the November crash involving former Raider Henry Ruggs, who reached speeds of 156 mph, before crashing into a vehicle driven by 23-year-old Tina Tintor, killing her and her dog.

“We urge you to slow down, follow speed limits, make sure your speed is appropriate for the conditions,” Chapman said. “Help us save lives.”

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter. Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Investigative reporter Michael Scott Davidson contributed to this story.

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