- Category: Canada News
- Published Monday, December 21, 2015
- CTV News
Five tourists from Quebec were injured, two of them critically, when a vehicle plowed through a crowd of pedestrians on the Las Vegas Strip late Sunday.
A 24-year-old woman was behind the wheel, and a three-year-old child in the car, when it swerved off the road and into the crowd three times, killing one person and injuring at least 35 others, police said.
Among those injured were five people from the Montreal area, who were in Vegas with several relatives for a pre-Christmas gathering. Five other members of the group escaped injury during the incident.
Carmen Forino says she suffered a head injury and was taken to hospital along with her sister, her nephew and one other.
"I saw the car, it came on the sidewalk," she said. "I said to my husband, 'What is going on?' And then after, I guess (the driver) bumped me, and then that's it."
Forino's nephew, Anthony Hamel, suffered a leg injury in the collision, which occurred on the night he celebrated his 21st birthday. "Why did this happen?" Hamel told a local news station. "Why did this girl run over the sidewalk and injure a lot of people? She won't be able to feel the pain that she gave to a lot of people."
A spokesperson for the University Medical Centre of Southern Nevada confirmed that five Canadians were treated for injuries in connection with the incident. Two were still in hospital in critical condition on Monday morning.
Back in Quebec, the Forino family matriarch said she received a call about the incident before word came out that there were Canadians involved.
"My daughter warned me before it made it on the news," Maggie Forino told CTV Montreal in French. "It was a huge shock. I didn't know what to do."
She said her two daughters, her son-in-law and her grandson were among the injured. They are expected to return to Canada when they are well enough to travel.
Several witnesses allege the driver of the vehicle accelerated into the crowd and repeatedly veered onto the sidewalk to hit pedestrians.
"The car hit them and it was like a bowling ball hitting pins," one Las Vegas witness told a local news station.
"People were like, bouncing off the front of the car," another witness said.
"It looked like she wasn't even trying to stop the car," a third witness added. "She had both of her hands on the wheel and was looking straight forward."
Police say the suspected driver stopped at a nearby hotel and told the valet to call 911. She was described as "stoic" when she was taken into custody.
Lakeisha Holloway, 24, is now facing several charges, including murder with the use of a deadly weapon, and multiple counts of attempted murder with a deadly weapon.
Her three-year-old son was not hurt in the incident.
The Clark County Coroner says Jessica Valenzuela, 32, of Buckeye, Ariz., died in the crash. Valenzuela was in Las Vegas with her husband, and was the mother of two children, the coroner said.
Police said the pedestrians were not in the road and not at fault. They said they believe the crash was "an intentional act," and was not terror-related.
Investigators say Holloway was homeless and had been in Las Vegas for a week. Her vehicle was a 1996 Oldsmobile with Oregon plates.
With files from CTV Montreal