Fatal crash closes route between Pahrump and Vegas

One person was killed and four others injured after a fatal crash that caused a portion of State Route 160 between Pahrump and Las Vegas to be closed for several hours Monday night.

Las Vegas resident Heath Vanstone, 46, died in the crash that involved three motorcycles and two sport utility vehicles. The incident also sent four others to UMC Trauma in Las Vegas, with one being life-flighted to the hospital and the other three transported via ambulance.

The crash took place between mile marker 17 and mile marker 18 around 5:50 p.m. Monday night, when Vanstone was headed west toward Pahrump, attempted to pass a Honda CR-V and was hit head-on by a Ford Edge traveling eastbound, killing him on the scene.

The Ford Edge flipped as result of the crash with Vanstone and ran into the oncoming Honda CR-V, causing the two other motorcyclists to hit the CR-V they were trailing.

One other motorcyclist and the three occupants of the Ford were taken to UMC Trauma. The other motorcyclist and the two occupants of the Honda were uninjured.

Traffic was closed to motorists in both directions for about fives hours as law enforcement officials conducted their investigation, reopening the highway to drivers at 10:45 p.m. Drivers were told to take U.S. 95 through Indian Springs while the road was closed to travel between Las Vegas and Pahrump.

The crash marks the first fatal incident of the year on the deadly stretch of road, which occurred just a week after crews began a widening project designed to make a five-mile stretch of SR-160 safer.

The $16.5 million project is slated to be complete in early 2017 and will widen SR-160, the main and fastest route to Pahrump from Clark County, between mile marker 10.89 (just past State Route 159 or the Red Rock Canyon Road junction) and mile marker 16.63, from two lanes to four lanes of travel. Monday’s crash occurred close to the end of the widening project.

Improvements include flattening side slope shoulders for safer vehicle turnouts, while installing new drainage pipe and tortoise fencing. Other work consists of placing barrier and guardrails as well as hydro-seeding 38 acres.

Tony Illia, Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman, said that nighttime work concluded on Tuesday and that the project is still on schedule.

In a five-year crash study, NDOT found that the stretch of road between mile marker 11 and mile marker 22 saw an average crash rate almost double the rate for the average NDOT maintained rural principal arterial.

The crash is the latest of several fatal incidents in the past 14 months and the second crash involving multiple motorcycles during that span. In December 2014 near mile marker 16, a fatal crash involving seven motorcycles and a passenger vehicle took the life of an 18-year-old North Las Vegas man and injured several others.

Contact reporter Mick Akers at makers@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @MickAkers