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At least two Canadians in hospital after driver hits pedestrians in Las Vegas

Police and emergency crews respond to the scene of a car accident along Las Vegas Boulevard, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in Las Vegas.
Image Credit: AP Photo/John Locher
December 21, 2015 - 10:26 AM

LAS VEGAS - A hospital spokeswoman says two Canadians are among five people in either critical or serious condition after a woman intentionally drove her car into pedestrians on a sidewalk outside a Las Vegas casino.

Danita Cohen of the University Medical Centre of Southern Nevada tells The Canadian Press that three of the five are in critical condition and two are in serious condition.

She could not elaborate on the health of the two Canadians.

Las Vegas police say one person was killed and 26 other people were sent to hospital after the Sunday evening incident.

They say several Canadians were injured.

Police do not believe it was an act of terrorism.

Cohen says four men and a woman are also in fair condition at another facility, the Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center.

The driver, who is in her 20s, "went up and off these streets, two or possibly three times," Lt. Dan McGrath said, striking people on a busy sidewalk outside the Paris and Planet Hollywood casino-hotels.

A three-year-old child was in the vehicle with her but was not hurt, said Capt. Brett Zimmerman.

Police did not give a possible motive but said they would release more information at a 1 p.m. news conference.

At least two of the injured Canadians were from Montreal, Cohen said.

News reports indicated one of the injured was 21-year-old Anthony Hamel, from Delson, near Montreal.

Reports said he was released from hospital but that his relatives had been more seriously injured.

Jessica Valenzuela, 32, of Buckeye, Arizona, died in the crash, according to Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg. The suburban Phoenix woman was visiting Las Vegas with her husband, the coroner said.

Justin Cochrane, a visitor from Santa Barbara, Calif., said he was having dinner at a sidewalk restaurant outside the Paris hotel when he saw the car smashing into pedestrians.

"It was just massacring people," he said, adding that the car appeared to be going 50 and 65 km/h.

Cochrane said he couldn't understand why the car went into the crowd a second time.

"Why would it slow to go around and then accelerate again?" he said. "I thought, 'It's a crazy person.'"

Cochrane said he saw children and adults injured on the ground as the car drove away.

The pedestrians were not in the road and were not at fault, police said.

Joel Ortega, 31, of Redlands, Calif., said he and his wife, Carla, were visiting for the weekend and found themselves blocked from walking on the sidewalk toward the Paris hotel. They could see police investigating about a block away from the crash.

"At first, I thought it was a movie shoot," he said. "I thought maybe we'd see someone famous."

But then they learned that it was a crash scene. Ortega said it made them remember how their Redlands neighbourhood was disrupted after the Dec. 2 mass shooting in nearby San Bernardino, Calif.

The crash comes months after another woman was accused of driving into a crowd during Oklahoma State's homecoming parade. Four people were killed and more than 40 were hurt Oct. 24.

In September 2005, three tourists were killed and nearly a dozen injured when a car barrelled through the crowd on the Las Vegas Strip and crashed into a cement barrier in front of Bally's hotel-casino.

— With files from The Associated Press

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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