on 27 November 1980 (Thanksgiving Day) Priscilla Joyce Ford drove her lincoln continental up the sidewalk on virginia street in reno, killing 6 people and wounding 23. (I was there, had just pulled into my parking lot seconds before her rampage, but saw the horror of what she did)
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It takes another minute for the Lincoln to make its way to 100 feet south of the southeast corner of Second and Virginia streets. At 2:59 p.m., the Lincoln jumps the curb and careens down the sidewalk. It hits the curb at about 20 miles an hour, a speed not likely to blow the tires. The car rapidly accelerates to as high as 40 miles an hour, driving 100 feet down the sidewalk, witnesses will later say. It crosses the Second Street crosswalk and continues another 322 feet down the sidewalk in front of the bank, in front of Harrah’s, Nevada Club and Harold’s Club. Then it’s back on Virginia Street, crossing to the southbound lane and stopping two blocks later behind traffic at the Fifth Street traffic light. The light is red.
Destruction follows the car’s path like an indictment. Five people are killed immediately, and 24 are injured. Fourteen people will be sent to Washoe Medical Center; the remaining 10 to St. Mary’s. Street signs, body parts, clothing and the wounded and dead lie on the sidewalk and in the gutter like victims of a natural disaster. But this is an entirely unnatural disaster.
It takes only a few seconds for Ford to drive that five-block total. For the victims, every second following the attack is an eternity, waiting for help to arrive, for family members to come, for the news of survivors and casualties. But the longest wait, some will later say, is for justice.
The two daily newspapers, the Nevada State Journal and the Reno Evening Gazette, contain chilling accounts of the killings in progress.
“It looked as though someone had gone through the streets with a lawnmower, mowing people down,” a woman from Canada who’d witnessed the massacre from the Onslow Hotel-Casino tells the Gazette. “It looked like a battlefield—there were bodies all over the place.”