Stratosphere Crash Driver Commits Suicide After Jail Release, Prosecutors Under Fire

A driver who allegedly crashed his vehicle into the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip committed suicide a day after he was released from jail. Now prosecutors are under fire for not charging the man with a crime in the intentional crash and not evaluating him for mental illness.

Stratosphere crash driver, 40-year-old Ryan C. Brown, was found dead Tuesday in his room at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. According to the Clark County coroner, the cause of death was due to hanging. At this time, police do not suspect foul play, and believe Brown took his own life.

On September 10, authorities say the man was the driver of a vehicle that plowed into the Stratosphere. Police jailed the man after gathering enough information to suggest the crash was intentional. Moreover, police say the man was suicidal, as evidenced from his threats to jump to his death from the Stratosphere tower.

However, five days after the crash driver’s detention, he was freed from jail without formal charges or any restrictions, according to Fox News. Apparently, there is some uproar about why the man was not held on any criminal violations or committed over threats of suicide.

“The real question is why the district attorney didn’t charge him,” said Daren Richards, assistant Clark County public defender.

Richards said it is a matter of routine for detainees and defendants to be screened at the jail or holding facility for potential threats of self-harm. Additionally, it only takes intervention from a judge if there is reason someone needs further evaluation, even against their consent. This is done primarily for their own safety. In Clark County, the process is called a “Legal 2000,” which is a mental commitment for up to 72 hours.

A lot of questions remain unanswered. For instance, was the driver involved in the Stratosphere hotel crash evaluated without any record? Why wasn’t he charged with a crime after he deliberately smashed his car into the facility — based on police reports? Finally, why did he kill himself?

Witnesses say Brown drove his vehicle onto a Las Vegas sidewalk and then appeared to intentionally accelerate his Ford F-150 through a valet area before making a beeline through the front doors of the Stratosphere Casino. Luckily, no one was injured in the freakish vehicle crash.

The driver tried to flee the scene on foot and struggled with hotel security before police arrived to arrest him. Reportedly, there was probable cause to detain him on drug possession charges, reckless operation and DUI.

Police documents show the crash driver wanted to jump off the Stratosphere. Additionally, he allegedly told investigators he shares a birthday with Elvis, was employed at the Burning Man festival as an electrical worker, and was fired after a domestic dispute with his spouse.

While detained, sources say he was combative with correctional officers and spat at those around him. If true, it adds to the growing puzzle over why the man was not charged after crashing his vehicle into the Stratosphere.

[Image via: Wikimedia Commons]