Five women and girls from Edmonton – three of which are athletes on a local cheerleading team — were taken to hospital in Las Vegas after being involved in a four-vehicle collision Friday morning.
A group of 21 girls, ages 12 to 16, plus three chaperones were on the airport connector highway en route to The Mirage hotel, where they were staying and competing at.
The girls are part of Alberta Cheer Empire (ACE), A competitive cheerleading company that has over 30 teams. Their team, called “Invictus” is in Las Vegas to compete in the American Grand National Championships.
Kim Fiissel, owner of Alberta Cheer Empire, said they had just left the airport on the short drive over to their hotel on the south stretch of the Las Vegas Strip, when the crash happened.
“We were probably only five minutes into our bus trip and it all happened very fast,” Kim Fiissel said, adding they we were thrown pretty hard when their bus was hit.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Jeff Clark said the collision happened when officers tried to stop a Chevrolet rental car, but it took off and police didn’t chase it. The car then crashed into a city bus, a pickup truck and the cheer team’s shuttle. The collision happened shortly after 11 a.m.
Fiissel said it was very scary, with the Humboldt bus crash coming to mind. She said in 26 years of touring cheerleaders, this is her worst nightmare.
“The worst thoughts go through your head, and so as soon as I was able to get myself up, that was my concern – how are the kids doing? And they’re pretty shaken up.”
Three of the girls, plus one chaperone and Fiissel were all taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries – mainly bumps and bruises.
Fiissel said she has a concussion, scratched eye, chipped tooth, sore jaw, and some stitches on her leg, and bruising and swelling on her shin.
Travis Smaka, public information officer for Nevada Highway Patrol southern command, said no one in the other vehicles were taken to hospital.
“Anytime you have multiple commercial vehicles – shuttle buses, city buses – involved in one crash, it is a big deal,” Smaka said, adding the road was closed for several hours in the early afternoon while police investigated.
The American Grand National Championships begin on Saturday. The team isn’t yet sure if it will still compete, and will meet later Friday night after everyone is out of the hospital to made a decision.
The team’s goal in Las Vegas was to quality for The Summit, an international cheer competition next May at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
A second ACE team is also in Las Vegas, but they were in a different vehicle that wasn’t involved in the collision.
Las Vegas police told Global News they have a suspect in custody, but as of Friday evening no charges had been laid.