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Driver blames wind for fatal wrong-way crash with motorcyclists

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Truck driver blames wind for wrong-way crash with three motorcyclists outside of Las Vegas last month, newly released documents reveal. 

The accident happened on March 23rd outside of Las Vegas, Nevada on State Route 163. 

According to 8 News Now, witnesses report that 29-year-old truck driver Claude Rafiki crossed the center line and collided with two motorcycles, killing two motorcyclists and one passenger. The wreck killed 22-year-old Owen Hart, who was just starting his own career as a trucker, 21-year-old Athena Faye Taylor, and 44-year-old Jeremy Gebo. 

Documents released Wednesday, April 17th reveal that Rafiki told police that the “wind” caused him to drive the wrong way on SR 163. He said he was not impaired, but did take medicine for seizures. Rafiki was initially arrested on three charges of DUI resulting in death. Troopers reported that Rafiki had “bloodshot eyes,” “an unsteady gait” and an “unsatisfactory performance” on a field sobriety test. 

A trooper trained to recognize drug use believed “Rafiki [was] under the influence of a dissociative anesthetic and central nervous system stimulants” at the time of the wreck. 

Rafiki’s first court appearance was delayed for days as the court searched for a translator that could speak Kinyarwanda, a Central African language spoken by Rafiki. 

A wind advisory warning of wind gusts of up to 55 mph was issued by the National Weather Service for southern Nevada on March 23rd, the day of the accident. 

As of Wednesday, April 17th, Rafiki was being held on $500,000 bond and is scheduled for court on April 25th.

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