LAS VEGAS – A 70-year-old Washington state man has been freed on $6,000 bail pending arraignment on felony charges in a deadly Nevada casino crash that killed two people and injured at least seven, authorities said.
Walter McGie of Kelso, Wash., was released late Wednesday from the local police lockup in Laughlin and scheduled for arraignment March 11 in Laughlin Justice Court on two charges of reckless driving causing death, a court clerk said. Each charge carries a possible sentence of probation or one to six years in state prison.
It was unclear if McGie had a lawyer, and there was no telephone listing for him in Laughlin or Kelso. A message left for McGie with his bail bondsman at All Star Bail Bonds was not immediately returned.
Las Vegas police said McGie told investigators he fainted before his 2007 Pontiac Vibe crashed Wednesday morning through the front entrance and into a bank of slot machines at the Edgewater Hotel & Casino in Laughlin. Las Vegas police cover the Colorado River resort town about 100 miles south of Las Vegas.
Crash investigators have impounded casino security videotapes that officials said should show the crash from several angles. Police Officer Barbara Morgan said Thursday the video is evidence and will not be released to the public until trial.
Investigators also were due Thursday to begin trying to determine if McGie's vehicle had a mechanical malfunction as it sped through a red light, across Casino Drive and down a 150-foot horseshoe-shaped driveway into the front doors of the 26-story hotel.
The Vibe is a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors Co. Last month, 2009 and 2010 Vibe models were recalled because of a risk of a floor mat trapping the gas pedal, causing unintended acceleration.
However, the 2007 model involved in the crash was not part of that recall, or two Toyota recalls that recently affected millions of cars in the United States because of a risk of unintended acceleration.
General Motors spokesman Tom Wilkinson said Wednesday the Vibe underwent significant design changes between the 2008 and 2009 model years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not list any defects or recalls for the 2007 Vibe in its database.
Police have said there was no evidence that alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash, and there were no skid marks or evidence that McGie applied the brakes before slamming into the casino.
The Clark County coroner did not immediately identify the two women who were killed.
One injured person was admitted to Western Arizona Regional Medical Center in Bullhead City, where a hospital spokeswoman said three others were treated and released.
Two were flown to University Medical Center in Las Vegas. Their conditions were not immediately available Thursday.
Police and firefighters said at least two other people were treated at the scene for minor injuries.