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Las Vegas police pursue red-light-blowing car, find driver dead

August 07, 2012|By John M. Glionna

LAS VEGAS -- You've heard of "dead man walking," used to describe the condemned's long stroll to the execution chamber?

But dead man driving?

Las Vegas police are scratching their heads after officers pursuing a car -- one that appeared to be driving itself -- found a dead man behind the wheel.

Authorities said a patrolman reported that he saw a Nissan Maxima blow through a red light about 6 p.m. Sunday near Martin Luther King and Lake Mead boulevards, but was perplexed not to see anyone in the driver's seat.

After the car left the intersection, officials said, it jumped a median and veered into a landscaped area near a church before turning back into oncoming traffic and hitting another vehicle. It’s not clear how far the car traveled, but police said it wasn't a short distance.

Finally catching up with the mystery-mobile, officers found a man with multiple gunshot wounds slouched in the driver's seat. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

"At some point, he was apparently driving the vehicle," Laura Meltzer, a spokeswoman for the Las Vegas Police Department, told the Los Angeles Times. "The officer watched the car pass through the intersection, but when [police] got there, he was slumped over the steering wheel, dead. Who knows if he was unconscious or deceased, but if his foot was on the gas pedal, the car is going to keep moving."

Police do assume this much: The victim appeared to have been shot, multiple times, while inside the car. The maroon vehicle had bullet holes in the side door, police said.

"We want to know what happened," Meltzer said.

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john.glionna@latimes.com

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