Suspected DUI driver takes life of well-liked Strip casino dealer
LAS VEGAS (KSNV) —
It’s happened again. An accused drunk driver has taken a life on our valley roads.
The victim, 64-year-old Jim Cloonan, was a casino dealer on his way home from work.
The crash happened at 3 a.m. Wednesday morning at Flamingo and Swenson, near UNLV.
The suspect, 31-year-old Steven Terry, is at the Clark County Detention Center facing DUI and reckless driving charges.
Terry is expected to face a judge Friday morning.
According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Terry ran a red light moments before smashing into Cloonan’s car.
Gina Arias worked with Cloonan at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. She said Cloonan always had a smile on his face, no matter what.
"With his curly hair and his smile, he would come up to us, super cheery,” said Gina Arias. "He would come to the table early to give you a break and when he did, he would always greet you with, 'Honey I’m home!'"
Arias said Cloonan was on his way home from work when the crash happened.
"Just the fact, our shift specifically, were on Las Vegas Blvd at 4 or 5 am. It’s something that could affect each one of us, just going to and from work, which is exactly what happened to him," she said.
"He just got off an hour early and had to go home,” she continued.
An LVMPD arrest report reveals Terry smelled of alcohol. He told officers he was at Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen’s Club before the crash.
Police have investigated 119 crashes so far this year. Half of those crashes were DUI-related.
The department has recently turned to Facebook, urging drivers to stop getting behind the wheel while impaired.
"We’re better than this, Las Vegas," said Captain Nick Farese. "People’s lives are at stake. We need to stop this senseless death."
As for Arias, she said the pain is real.
While she’s upset with the driver’s decision that ended her coworker’s life, she will focus on the remarkable man she was blessed to call a friend.
“He came into the room, came into the table, smiling, happy. That made a big difference,” she said.