Man who sped through red light, killing nine, was 'high on cocaine'

Career criminal, 59, who sped through red light at 100mph killing nine, including seven members of the same family had ‘very high’ levels of cocaine, hallucinogen PCP and alcohol in his system

  • Gary Robinson was high on drugs and alcohol when he caused pile-up in Nevada
  • Former prosecutor said he had never seen levels like it in decades-long career
  • Robinson and his passenger died, along with seven family members in van he hit 

The driver of the Dodge Challenger that caused the crash, Gary Dean Robinson, 59, (pictured) of North Las Vegas , was found to have high levels of cocaine and the hallucinogenic PCP in his system. He was among the nine pronounced dead at the scene. 

A career criminal who killed seven members of the same family and two others – including himself – when he sped through a red light at 100mph was high on cocaine and hallucinogenic PCP, an autopsy has revealed. 

Gary Robinson, 59, was found to have high levels of both drugs in his system after causing Nevada’s deadliest crash in 30 years at the intersection of Cheyenne Avenue and Commerce Street, north Las Vegas, on January 29 this year. 

A former prosecutor said he had ‘never seen’ such levels in a DUI death case and believes Robinson was doing ‘bumps of cocaine’ in his Dodge Challenger moments before he ploughed into a minivan, which was carrying children as young as five. 

Robinson, who had also consumed alcohol, and his passenger Tanaga Ravel Miller, 46, were pronounced dead at the scene of the multi-vehicle collision. 

The tragic family of seven, who had all been in the minivan, included Fernando Yeshua Mejia, aged five; Adrian Zacarias, 10; Lluvia Daylenn Zacarias, 13; Bryan Axel Zacarias, 15; Gabriel Mejia-Barrera, 23; David Mejia-Barrera, 25; and Jose Zacarias Caldera, 35.

The parents of the children who died, who were not in the van with them, said after the horror crash that their ‘world has ended’ as they now have ‘nothing to live for’. 

Las Vegas attorney Thomas Moskal, a former prosecutor who specializes in defending impaired driving cases, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that the levels of cocaine and PCP found in Robinson’s blood were ‘extremely elevated’, adding that he had ‘never seen anything like it.’ 

‘You definitely see this kind of shock-the-conscience type of driving behavior when someone is on a hallucinogenic like PCP combined with cocaine and alcohol,’ Moskal said.   

‘He was completely out of sorts. One of the most heavily-impaired cases I would have ever gotten for a DUI death case. 

The crash claimed the lives of seven members of Erlinda Zacarias’ (pictured in foreground) family, including (L to R) Bryan Axel Zacarias, 15 (pictured next to his dad); Lluvia Daylenn Zacarias, 13; Adrian Zacarias, 10, and Fernando Yeshua Mejia, 5

Also killed were the kids’ two adult stepbrothers and an uncle, identified as Gabriel Mejia-Barrera, 23; David Mejia-Barrera, 25; and Jose Zacarias Caldera, 35

The North Las Vegas Police Department has released video showing the moments before a speeding Dodge Challenger (circled in red) smashed into multiple vehicles on January 29

Gary Robinson’s Dodge, traveling at 100mph, is seen barreling towards a white Toyota Sienna carrying seven family members, who were all killed 

‘I’ve never seen a smorgasbord of substances in a person’s system like this.’

He added: ‘Normally what you see if someone gets a blood test is they’ll have no active (cocaine) in their system and they will have a relatively low amount of metabolite in their system.

‘But that doesn’t mean they weren’t impaired. So if you see levels this high … this is someone who most likely just snorted a bump of cocaine while he was in the car. 

‘It enters the blood stream that fast and it is out of the blood stream that fast.’

The results of Robinson’s autopsy and toxicology reports were released by Clark County on Monday. 

They showed he had 2,700 nanograms per milliliter of the cocaine byproduct Benzoylecgonine in his blood. 

He also had 390 nanograms per milliliter of cocaine and 27 nanograms per milliliter of Phencyclidine –  also known a PCP, ‘Angel Dust’ or ‘Sherm’, according to the coroner’s office reports. 

Alcohol was also traced in Robinson’s urine, as well as the prescription drug Gabapentin. 

An investigation into the crash by the National Transportation Safety Board continues. 

It comes after traffic video released earlier this month showed the final moments leading up to the deadly collision.  

Robinson’s Dodge is seen wrecked after the devastating crash in North Las Vegas 

Tanaga Ravel Miller, 46, of North Las Vegas, seen above, died while riding in a Dodge Challenger driven by Robinson

The North Las Vegas Police Department on released a minute-long recording that shows Robinson’s maroon Dodge Challenger barreling towards the busy intersection, reported Las Vegas Review-Journal. 

The Zacarias family’s white Toyota Sienna minivan is seen moving in the traffic flow. The video stops just before impact. 

In the first moments after the chain-reaction crash, the local 911 call center was flooded with frantic calls from witnesses describing a terrible scene.

‘There’s bodies everywhere. Adults and children. Come fast,’ one horrified onlooker told an emergency dispatcher. 

Another bystander witnessing the carnage cried out on the call: ‘Oh, my God we need paramedics. There’s a baby. It’s dead.’ 

The Zacarias family of seven had just left Craig Ranch Regional Park and were heading to a buffet for a weekly lunch when their van was struck by Robinson’s speeding Dodge Challenger, with the impact pushing the wreckage into four additional vehicles and leaving four people injured.

‘We have not seen a mass casualty traffic collision like this before,’ North Las Vegas Police spokesman Alexander Cuevas told reporters at a press briefing that night. 


October 1998: Assault with a deadly weapon (felony)

January 1999: Possession of cocaine (felony)

February 2002: Disorderly conduct (misdemeanor)

January 2004: Sale of cocaine (felony)

March 2004: Battery, domestic violence (misdemeanor)

June 2005: Drug possession (felony)

November 2006: Resisting a public officer, battery, tampering with a vehicle (felony)

October 2008: Open container in a vehicle, driving on a suspended/revoked license (misdemeanor)

November 2008: Battery on a police officer with substantial bodily harm, battery on a police officer/school employee (felony)

May 2017: Speeding, 11-20 mph over speed limit

December 2021: Speeding violation, 1-10 mph over speed limit

Erlinda Zacarias, the mother of the children who perished in the wreck, said at the time that she and her husband ‘have nothing to live for. Our world has ended.’

Robinson had a history of speeding and reckless driving as well as a more violent past.

Last December, Robinson was charged with speeding when he was traveling up to 10mph over the limit, according to court records.

He was scheduled to be in Las Vegas Municipal Court on Monday for sentencing on the speeding ticket after pleading guilty.

His past reveals the life of a career criminal, including charges of assault with a deadly weapon, domestic violence, drug offenses, battery – and several speeding tickets that resulted in his license having been suspended.

His criminal history stretched back decades, according to court records dating to 1998, when he was cited for drug possession and assault.

In 2004, Robinson was busted for selling cocaine to an undercover Las Vegas Metropolitan Police detective.

Court documents show he pleaded guilty to possession, but violated the conditions of his probation and was sent to jail for 30 days in 2007.

Robinson also pleaded guilty to battery in a domestic violence case in 2004.

Four years later, in November 2008, Robinson got into a fight with bailiffs at drug court after Judge Joe Bonaventure ordered him to be sent to jail for two days.

Robinson rushed towards the judge’s bench with bailiffs Tazing him three times as he tried to flee the courtroom.

In 2008, Robinson pleaded guilty to having an open container and driving with a revoked or suspended license on the Las Vegas Strip.

And in 2017, he was charged with speeding when he had been going 20mph over the limit.

The family of Tanaga Miller, Robinson’s passenger, told the Review-Journal that the 46-year-old was a recent stroke survivor who did not know Robinson and had just asked him for a ride because his medical condition prevented him from driving.  

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