At least 2 Cdns in hospital after driver hits pedestrians in Las Vegas


The Canadian Press

LAS VEGAS: Two Canadians remained in a Las Vegas hospital with critical head wounds on Monday after a woman struck them and more than 30 other people with her vehicle on a busy sidewalk along the city’s famous casino strip.

Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo said “pretty detailed” video footage shows a car mounting the sidewalk and striking pedestrians “in an intentional act.”

One person died and about 35 people were injured after Sunday evening’s incident, which Lombardo does not believe was an act of terrorism.

Danita Cohen of the University Medical Centre of Southern Nevada told The Canadian Press that, as of Monday evening, three people were still in hospital in critical condition _ including two Canadians who were not identified _ while two others had serious injuries.

Lombardo said those in critical condition suffered head wounds.

Initial reports indicated at least five Canadians were among the injured, with Cohen saying at least two of them were from Montreal.

District attorney Steve Wolfson said Lakeisha Holloway, 24, will be charged with one count of murder with the use of a deadly weapon and that other charges will likely follow including multiple counts of attempted murder with a deadly weapon.

“We intend to file charges immediately,” Wolfson said, adding Holloway could appear in court as early as Tuesday morning.

CTV Montreal reported that members of a Montreal-area family were among those injured.

“I see the car come on the sidewalk and I said to my husband, ‘What are you doing?’ and after he bumped me and that’s it,” Carmen Forino told the station.

She said she suffered head trauma and was taken to hospital with her sister and two other people, including Anthony Hamel, her nephew.

“Why? Why us? Why did this happen?” Hamel told Las Vegas TV station KTNV. “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.”

Lombardo said Holloway is from around Portland, Ore., and had been living in her car in Las Vegas for about one week prior to the attack.

She was arrested a few blocks further away after stopping her vehicle “and was very stoic at the time,” Lombardo said.

“She didn’t appear to be distressed about her actions,” he added.

Her three-year-old daughter was in the car but was not injured.

Lombardo said Holloway made statements to police about her motive but he added investigators are still collecting information on her background and trying to reach her relatives.

“We are not 100 per cent ruling out the possibility of terrorism,” he said. “(Because) it’s going to be hard for us to explain at face value (what happened). We are working very hard on that. But I don’t believe it was an act of terrorism.”

He suggested her motive could be related to a “disassociation with the father of her child and events prior.”

Holloway “went up and off these streets, two or possibly three times,” Lt. Dan McGrath said, striking people on the busy sidewalk outside the Paris and Planet Hollywood casino-hotels.

Jessica Valenzuela, 32, of Buckeye, Arizona, died in the crash, 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, Calif., 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 50 and 65 km/h.

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

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

Joel Ortega, 31, of Redlands, Calif., said he and his wife, Carla, were visiting for the weekend and found themselves blocked from walking on the sidewalk toward the Paris hotel. They could see police investigating about a block away from the crash.

“At first, I thought it was a movie shoot,” he said. “I thought maybe we’d see someone famous.”

_ With files from Giuseppe Valiante of The Canadian Press in Montreal and from The Associated Press


© 2015 The Canadian Press