The woman accused of causing the fiery Los Angeles car crash that killed six people has now been charged with murder, prosecutors say. Nicole Lorraine Linton, 37, faces six counts of murder and five counts of vehicular manslaughter as of Monday.
Linton, a traveling nurse with Kaiser Permanente’s West LA Medical Center, is believed to have been traveling more than 100 mph when she plowed through a red light in a 35 mph zone last Thursday which set off the gruesome and deadly chain of events that resulted in, among others, the death of a woman and her unborn baby as well as her 11-month-old son.
She was initially taken into custody on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and was believed to have been drinking at a nearby house after having a fight with her boyfriend. Linton was injured in the crash along with eight others, but she has since been released from the hospital and is being held in the LA County’s Century Regional Detention Facility with bail set at $9 million, according to Fox 11 Los Angeles.
Witness Veronica Esquival related the horrific moment when the 11-month-old baby was ejected from his mother’s car.
(Video: Fox 11 Los Angeles)
“I was about to pump gas and all of a sudden, I hear all of the noises from all of the collisions, and then the fire explosion and I saw things, metal and things flying in the air. So, I just covered myself behind the pump,” she recalled. “All of the sudden, a baby literally flew from the middle of the intersection to the middle of the gas station and landed right on the floor in front of me. One of the workers came and saw me with the baby and took the baby out of my hands. Somebody tried to resuscitate the baby, but the baby was gone.”
A California Highway Patrol official said the aftermath of the crash “almost looks like a war zone.”
“It was just really bad. It was just really, really graphic, really gruesome with people everywhere screaming,” a witness told Fox 11.”
Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón issued a statement about the incident on Twitter.
“My heart goes out to the families that lost loved ones in the horrific car collision that occurred yesterday in Windsor Hills. This incredible tragedy has sent shockwaves throughout #LosAngeles and the loss of so many precious lives will have a lasting impact on those that are closest to them,” the statement read.
Gascon said that manslaughter charges could not be applied in the death of an unborn child, hence the five charges rather than six. He added that “There is no evidence of any alcohol use at this point,” but the case is an ongoing investigation.
At the site of the crash on S. La Brea and Slauson, a makeshift memorial has been placed that continues to grow each day.
“I was on that street there,” witness Latricia Tucker said, adding it happened, “right in front of my face.”
If convicted as charged, Linton could face 90 years to life in prison. Her arraignment is set for October 26. On her first day in court Monday, witnesses said tears could be seen rolling down Linton’s face.
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