Driver in Vegas hit-and-run faces murder charge

Dec 21, 2015 2:58 PM by CBS/AP

LAS VEGAS -- Authorities say the driver who repeatedly smashed her car into crowds of visitors on the Las Vegas Strip, killing one person and wounding dozens of others, will face a murder charge.

The woman was identified as 24-year-old Lakeisha Holloway from Oregon. She had a 3-year-old in the car with her, but the child wasn't injured.

The incident left a woman from Arizona dead and more than 30 others injured. Three are in critical condition, said Sheriff Joseph Lombardo. Police say Holloway was using a "stimulant" and said she had been in Las Vegas for about one week, living in her vehicle.

Video of the car plowing into pedestrians in front of the Paris and Planet Hollywood casino-hotels "looks like it's very intentional," police Capt. Brett Zimmerman said Monday. The 1996 Oldsmobile sedan was fully on the sidewalk twice Sunday evening, including once when it traveled for 200 feet.

Police say they don't know why Holloway drove onto the walkway first near a restaurant at Planet Hollywood and then again at the driveway entrance to the Paris hotel.

Sheriff Lombardo said that after striking more than two dozen people, Holloway drove to a hotel and told a valet to call 911 after explaining what she had done. Lombardo says police believe she had a falling out with the father of her child before the crash.

A drug recognition expert on the scene determined Holloway was under the influence of a "stimulant," but blood test results are pending. He says Holloway was believed to be from Oregon and had been in Las Vegas for about a week. He says investigators believe she was homeless and living in the car.

Of the victims, five were Canadian citizens and four were university college students in town to compete in a wrestling tournament. One of the injured is a 1-year-old child, reports CBS Las Vegas affiliate KLAS-TV.

The crash happened on a busy stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard across from the dancing water fountains of the Bellagio hotel-casino where visitors crowd sidewalks as they head from one casino to another. The Miss Universe pageant was being held nearby at Planet Hollywood.

The driver, now identified as Holloway, sped away before the vehicle was found at a hotel and she was taken into custody.

One witness told KLAS some men tried to stop the car, but couldn't.

Prosecutors said Monday that they expect to charge her with murder and other crimes. The vehicle could be considered a deadly weapon, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said.

The crash killed Jessica Valenzuela, 32, according to Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg. The suburban Phoenix woman was visiting Las Vegas with her husband, the coroner said.

Justin Cochrane, a visitor from Santa Barbara, California, said he was having dinner at a sidewalk restaurant outside the Paris hotel when he saw the car smashing into pedestrians.

"It was just massacring people," he said, adding that the car appeared to be going at least 30 mph.

The Oldsmobile then went farther down the road and drove back into another crowd of pedestrians on the sidewalk, he said.

Cochrane said he couldn't understand why the car went into the crowd a second time.

"Why would it slow to go around and then accelerate again?" he said. "I thought, 'It's a crazy person.'"

Cochrane said he saw children and adults injured on the ground as the car drove away.

The pedestrians were not in the road and were not at fault, police said.


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