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Report: Driver in crash that killed 9 had drugs, alcohol in system

Updated March 21, 2022 - 4:16 pm

A Clark County autopsy report shows that Gary Robinson — the driver in a North Las Vegas crash that killed him and eight other people — had high levels of cocaine and PCP in his system as well as some alcohol.

Las Vegas attorney Thomas Moskal, a former prosecutor who specializes in defending impaired driving cases, said the amounts of cocaine and PCP found in Robinson’s blood were at extremely elevated levels.

Moskal said there is now no doubt that Robinson was impaired when he caused the deadliest crash on record in Nevada.

“You definitely see this kind of shock-the-conscience type of driving behavior when someone is on a hallucinogenic like PCP combined with cocaine and alcohol,” said Moskal, who previously worked as a Clark County prosecutor on DUI cases.

Police said Robinson, 59, had accelerated his Dodge Challenger to more than 100 mph before blowing through a red light and smashing into a minivan on Jan. 29 at Cheyenne Avenue and Commerce Street. Robinson and his passenger, Tanaga Ravel Miller, 46, and seven people in the minivan were killed.

The minivan occupants, who lived together, were Fernando Yeshua Mejia, 5; Adrian Zacarias, 10; Lluvia Daylenn Zacarias, 13; Bryan Axel Zacarias, 15; Gabriel Mejia-Barrera, 23; David Mejia-Barrera, 25; and Jose Zacarias-Caldera, 35.

At least four others were injured in the crash.

On Monday, Clark County released autopsy and toxicology reports for Robinson. Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said an external examination of Robinson’s body and blood tests were done first. The National Transportation Safety Board subsequently requested a full autopsy, including an internal examination, and additional toxicology testing on Robinson’s urine.

The blood tests showed Robinson had 2,700 nanograms per milliliter of the cocaine byproduct Benzoylecgonine in his blood. He had 390 nanograms per milliliter of cocaine in his system and 27 nanograms per milliliter of Phencyclidine. The latter is PCP, also known as “Angel Dust” or “Sherm,” according to the coroner’s office reports. Tests on Robinson’s urine also showed the presence of alcohol and the prescription drug Gabapentin.

Moskal said the measurements of cocaine and PCP are far above what is legally permissible under the law in Nevada.

“He was completely out of sorts,” Moskal said. “One of the most heavily-impaired cases I would have ever gotten for a DUI death case. I’ve never seen a smorgasbord of substances in a person’s system like this.”

Video previously released by North Las Vegas police as part of their investigation shows Robinson speeding as he drove his Challenger directly into the side of the van without braking. Moskal said the presence of PCP and cocaine, combined with alcohol, goes a long way in explaining Robinson’s driving. The levels of cocaine in Robinson’s system is especially noticeable because cocaine is known to rapidly disappear from a person’s body shortly after ingestion.

“Normally what you see if someone gets a blood test is they’ll have no active (cocaine) in their system and they will have a relatively low amount of metabolite in their system,” Moskal said. “But that doesn’t mean they weren’t impaired. So if you see levels this high … this is someone who most likely just snorted a bump of cocaine while he was in the car. It enters the blood stream that fast and it is out of the blood stream that fast.”

The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the crash.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter. Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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