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Thoughts About The Las Vegas Strip Crash From A Vegas Resident
Planet Hollywood and Paris Hotel Area Where The Strip Crash Happened
The First Time This Happened In Our Five Years Of Living In Las Vegas
I have to say, we were pretty shocked and left in disbelief on Sunday night, December 20th, 2015. This is when a young woman drove up onto busy sidewalk and pedestrian areas of Planet Hollywood and the Paris Hotel on the Las Vegas strip, running over and injuring more than 35 people (at last count) and killing one woman from Arizona.
My husband and I have been Las Vegas residents for five years now, and this was the first time something of this magnitude had happened since we moved here. With all the political turmoil going on now in the world, and with the worldwide increase in terrorism - including an incident in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015 - I have to admit that the first thought that came to my mind was "could this also be a terrorist act?"
I guess that was a natural thought to have, given recent world events. So far, local authorities and news sources are saying that it probably was not a terrorist related act, but rather an act that was carried out by a lone individual. More information will become public as time goes on.
Friends And Family Were Worried!
There was an outpouring of worried messages crossing both my husband's and my phones. Text messages came in from our sons and from other relatives wondering if we were OK, as well as many people checking in with us on Facebook ~ We were fine.
As luck would have it, we weren't even near the scene of the crash. We were over in the southeast part of town, past the Las Vegas Airport (Mc Carran Airport), at the Ethel M. Cactus Garden and Chocolate Factory.
Every year, there is an amazing display of Christmas lights on display at Ethel M Cactus Garden. Workers spend hours putting Christmas lights on all the cactuses in this beautiful and unique garden. These lights shine every night from November through the Christmas holiday, and for us, it's become sort of a tradition to go see the Christmas and holiday light displays each year.
The Scene Of The Crash
The crash happened on what is known as the Las Vegas Strip ~ A famous piece of real estate here in Las Vegas that is home to a lot of themed hotels, stores and businesses. The photo above is of the exact place of the crash.
When you come out of the Planet Hollywood Casino, there are several escalators taking you down to the strip. There is a wide plaza type area there where people walk to get to the Paris Hotel, and a huge intersection where people cross the street to go over to the Bellagio Hotel. The crash happened in this plaza area. We've been in this exact area many times before, but fortunately, not on this night.
From what I've read, the car left the main road (Las Vegas Boulevard) and went up onto the sidewalk on this plaza at least two times, maybe three times. The car also went onto the sidewalk near the Paris Hotel and hit more people there. It was estimated that there were at least 100 people in the vicinity. The fact that over 35 people were injured is horrendous.
The area was closed until the next morning and quickly became a triage area for the injured. Hundreds of rescue workers tended to the injured and ambulances transported people to three area hospitals. Police and investigators cordoned off the crime scene area as they tried to piece together exactly what had happened.
Some of the injured were from a wrestling team from Oregon's Pacific University, who were in town for a competition. This is an experience they will never forget. The 32 year old woman who was killed was a young mother of three girls from Arizona. She was visiting Las Vegas on a trip with her husband.
The Fountains Of Bellagio ~ Across The Street
What Happens Now?
The woman arrested and charged with this crime was a 24 year old from Oregon, who had been in town for about a week. She claimed she was not on drugs or alcohol, but was instead very tired from being shooed away by security personnel when she tried to sleep in her car in parking garages on the strip. She was with her three year old daughter, who was in the car with her when she hit these people.
I know from experience that you can't sleep in the public areas of strip properties. We saw a man doze off in a Mandalay Bay lounge one time while he was sitting in a chair, and he was quickly awakened and asked to leave the area by security personnel. Hotels and casinos here don't want to be seen as places where vagrants, homeless or others are allowed to sleep in their public areas undisturbed.
The woman responsible for this will be charged and will face trial. What happens from there is uncertain, but she most certainly will spend time in jail.
One thing we thought about was what will happen now on the strip here? Will new measures be taken, or physical barriers be put in place on strip properties to try to keep this from happening again? I can imagine barriers like decorative posts being placed at intervals a few feet apart along the sidewalks of strip properties, with spaces that will not allow a vehicle the size of a car to go through them.
I have a feeling that the casinos in Las Vegas will act quickly to restore the public's faith in the fact that casinos care about their safety when they are pedestrians on their properties. They won't want this incident to be detrimental to tourism, since a lot of revenue here comes from tourism.
I know that for us, it'll be a while before we'll even want to go to the strip, especially to the area where this crash occurred. The thing is, we had just been in the exact place where this crash happened about a week before it happened ~ We had gone to the Bellagio to see their Christmas decorations in the conservatory there. We had parked our car at Planet Hollywood and rode the escalator to the strip. From there, we crossed the street at that busy intersection.
I know you can't live your life in a fearful way and allow the fact that something bad happened someplace to keep you from going there. It will just take time I think before we venture back to the Las Vegas strip again.