A nurse from Houston accused of running a red light and speeding into a Windsor Hills intersection, sparking a fiery chain-reaction crash that killed six people, including a pregnant mother, her infant son and unborn baby, will be charged with six counts of murder, the district attorney announced Monday.
Nicole Lorraine Linton, 37, will also be charged with five counts of gross vehicular manslaughter for last Thursday’s crash at La Brea and Slauson avenues. District Attorney George Gascón said his office cannot file the manslaughter charge in a case involving an unborn child.
The charges were expected to be filed later Monday afternoon, with Linton potentially making an initial court appearance at that time. If convicted as charged, she could face 90 years to life in prison, Gascón said.
Linton was arrested Friday while she was still hospitalized for moderate injuries sustained in the crash, according to the California Highway Patrol. She was released from Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center over the weekend and was held on $9 million bail at the Century Regional Detention Center, according to jail records.
According to a CHP statement: “Preliminary investigation indicates Nicole Lorraine Linton was driving a dark-colored Mercedes, traveling southbound on La Brea Avenue at a high rate of speed” when the crash occurred around 1:40 p.m. Thursday.
“While driving the Mercedes, Linton proceeded through a red light and collided into multiple vehicles traveling eastbound and westbound on Slauson Avenue. As a result of this collision, multiple parties were ejected and two vehicles were fully engulfed in flames. Following the collision, involved parties were transported to (Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center) by ambulance and six individuals were declared deceased on scene,” the CHP continued.
A LinkedIn page for Nicole Lorraine Linton states she is a traveling nurse from Houston, employed by a health care staffing agency, and has been working in the intensive care unit at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center.
Kaiser Permanente issued a statement Friday saying, “Everyone at Kaiser Permanente is deeply saddened by Thursday’s horrific crash. It’s impossible to imagine the pain those involved are experiencing. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy. At this time, we are not able to comment on what has been reported as a criminal investigation.”
The pregnant woman who died in the crash was identified Friday by the coroner’s office as 23-year-old Asherey Ryan of Los Angeles. She and her male fetus were among the victims killed in the crash that occurred just before 1:40 p.m. Thursday at La Brea and Slauson avenues, near Ladera Park.
According to Ryan’s family, the woman’s 11-month-old son, Alonzo Quintero, was also killed, along with Ryan’s boyfriend, who was the father of her unborn son. Ryan’s boyfriend was driving the car that was struck, according to a video posted online by Ryan’s sister, Shoshanna Kerr.
Kerr identified him as Reynold Lester, 24, of Los Angeles, who worked as a security guard.
In the video, Kerr said Ryan was 8 1/2 months pregnant, and she was on her way to a doctor’s appointment when the crash occurred.
The family was planning to name the unborn infant Armani Lester, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
“She left the house at 1:30. She woke me up,” Kerr said. “She woke me up and told me she was going to go to her doctor’s appointment, that she loved me and she’ll be right back.”
She said that 15 minutes later, she saw video of the car crash.
“And for some reason, as soon as I seen that video, it hit me. It felt different. I felt connected,” she said.
Kerr said she cried throughout the night.
“I didn’t sleep one bit,” she said. “I’m all cried out.”
Shoshanna Kerr also told reporters that Ryan’s family forgives the driver who caused the crash.
“I just want to tell her that we forgive her,” she said. “She will have to live with this for the rest of her life. That’s why she was spared. We understand it already.”
A GoFundMe page established on behalf of the family had raised nearly $145,000 as of Monday afternoon.
Friends and family of the victims have gathered nightly at the crash site to remember and say goodbye to the victims. Lighted candles dotted a memorial near the site of the fiery crash. Saturday’s gathering included some LA County firefighters who were among the first to respond to the crash.
Dramatic surveillance video from the scene Thursday showed the Mercedes plowing through the 35 mph zone on La Brea at a speed authorities estimate neared 100 mph — speeding through a red light at Slauson and broad-siding a vehicle.
The crash ignited an inferno as the sedan struck by the Mercedes was pushed into at least one other vehicle, and both wound up against a gas station sign on the corner. A trail of fire was left burning in the intersection as the vehicles struck by the speeding driver were engulfed in flames.
CHP reports indicate eight vehicles, including Linton’s, were involved in the collision. The heavily damaged Mercedes ended up near a bench down the street.
The CHP reported a sixth victim was later found dead in the burned wreckage of one vehicle, but further information about that person has not been released.
Eight others were injured in the collision, including seven occupants of a Chevrolet Traverse. The 33-year-old driver, a year-old boy and three teenagers suffered moderate injuries, while two other teens inside the vehicle had only minor injuries.
The eighth victim — the 19-year-old driver of an Audi A3 — also suffered minor injuries.