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September 19, 2019

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At least one dead, 35 injured when car strikes pedestrians on the Strip

Mass Casualty Vehicle Accident on Strip

L.E. Baskow

Police and fire personnel respond to a mass casualty vehicle crash on Las Vegas Boulevard South on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, near Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood.

Updated Monday, Dec. 21, 2015 | 10:36 a.m.

Lakeisha Holloway

Lakeisha Holloway

One Dead, 35 Injured in Strip Crash

Las Vegas Metro Police and crime scene analysts look over a sedan believed to have been involved in an auto-pedestrian crash on the Las Vegas Strip that killed one person and injured at least 30 others in Las Vegas Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. Launch slideshow »

Lombardo Speaks on Strip Fatal Accident

Sheriff Joe Lombardo speaks during a news conference at Las Vegas Metro Police headquarters Monday, Dec. 21, 2015. Lombardo spoke on the fatal auto-pedestrian accident that killed one and injured over 30 people on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday night. A mugshot of suspect Lakeisha Holloway, 24, appears at right. Launch slideshow »

At least one person was killed and 35 injured when a woman steered a car onto a sidewalk on the Strip and hit pedestrians near Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood Sunday night, according to officials.

The incident occurred at 6:38 p.m. along Las Vegas Boulevard South, north of East Harmon Avenue, according to Metro Police. Officers said a 1996 Oldsmobile four-door sedan ran on and off of the sidewalk perhaps two or three times.

"We are treating this as an intentional act," Metro homicide Lt. Dan McGrath said.

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said on Monday he did not believe the incident was an act of terror, but "we are still working through it."

Lombardo identified the driver as Lakeisha N. Holloway, 24, of Oregon.

Clark County Detention Center records show that Holloway was being held on counts of open murder, child abuse or neglect and duty to stop at the scene of an accident involving death or personal injury. She was being held without bail.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said multiple counts of attempted murder also are being considered.

Charges could be filed as early as today or Tuesday, Wolfson said.

Holloway has an initial court hearing set for Tuesday morning, according to the jail records.

Las Vegas Boulevard was closed in both directions from Flamingo Road to Harmon, and Interstate 15 ramps to Flamingo east were closed, according to a Regional Transportation Commission alert sent about 7:20 p.m. By 6 a.m., the Strip had reopened after being closed for nearly 12 hours.

Clark County Fire Department spokesman Jeff Buchanan said six victims were transported to Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center and University Medical Center in critical condition. At 11:15 p.m., authorities listed those six in stable condition. Victims also were sent to Spring Valley Hospital, according to Metro Police. Four victims were treated and released.

Sunrise spokeswoman Stacy Acquista told The Associated Press that 11 adults were in good condition as of 9 p.m.

Danita Cohen, spokeswoman for UMC, said the hospital took in 15 victims, one of whom died. She told the AP injuries ranged from head injuries to broken bones and lacerations.

The victim who died has been identified by the Clark County Coroner's Office as Jessica Valenzuela, 32, of Buckeye, Ariz.

Three people, meanwhile, were in critical condition and two in serious condition, Cohen said Monday. The rest brought in for treatment have been released, including an 11-year-old, she said.

Cohen said many of the patients at UMC were from the Montreal, Canada, area and were requesting French-speaking translators.

The driver fled the scene and was taken into custody at the Tuscany Suites and Casino, near Flamingo and Koval Lane. She was interviewed and underwent sobriety checks, according to Metro Police Capt. Peter Boffelli.

Police could not confirm whether the driver was injured. But a 3-year-old child in the car was unharmed.

Metro Police Deputy Chief Brett Zimmerman denied initial reports that suggested gunshots were involved.

The preliminary investigation indicates the driver jumped the curb just south of Paris, striking numerous pedestrians, before continuing north on Las Vegas Boulevard. The vehicle hit pedestrians in two separate locations — just before Paris and then in front of Paris, Zimmerman said.

“This is a huge tragedy that has occurred on our Strip,” Boffelli said.

Justin Cochrane, visiting from Santa Barbara, Calif., said he saw the vehicle "taking people out" as it hurtled north on the sidewalk outside the French restaurant, Mon Ami Gabi.

"It was just hysteria," he said. "I'm shaken still."

Police said the woman is not originally from Las Vegas and has been in the area for at least a week. The vehicle she was driving had Oregon plates and did not have a Nevada registration, authorities said.

She was taken to the Clark County Detention Center, McGrath said. Police were securing a warrant to draw her blood and check for impairment.

In the meantime, investigators are piecing together evidence at the scene and interviewing witnesses. Multiple cameras along the Las Vegas Strip recorded the incident.

"We will comb through that footage to get a detailed idea of what occurred," Zimmerman said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval issued a statement saying he had spoken with Lombardo and would “remain in contact with him as this incident continues to evolve and additional information is released. The state stands ready to help and will provide any assistance needed to ensure the safety of our visitors and residents.”

The crash occurred as the 2015 Miss Universe pageant was airing live from inside Planet Hollywood.

Police are asking any witnesses who have not given a statement to contact homicide investigators at 702-828-3521.

Antonio Nassar was counting his money as he exited Planet Hollywood when he saw a vehicle drive up onto the sidewalk, striking numerous pedestrians.

The vehicle stopped briefly outside the Paris before accelerating toward Flamingo Road while still on the sidewalk. At one point, a young boy was being dragged by the vehicle, Nassar said.

"It was chaotic," he said. "I was running down the street saying, 'Move! Move! Get out of the way!'"

Nassar estimates the closest he got was about 20 feet away from the vehicle. The driver, he said, appeared to intentionally drive over the curb.

Dozens of people were hit as a result.

"It just sounded like watermelons falling on the sidewalk," said Nassar, a pilot who arrived in Las Vegas earlier Sunday.

In the aftermath, the injured pedestrians were standing or lying along the sidewalk — some with ripped clothes and bloody wounds — as emergency crews began arriving.

Several hours after the incident, Nassar stood along the sidewalk outside Planet Hollywood, hoping to glean more information from the police, who stood next to yellow crime-scene tape at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon.

"It's the wrong time to have this happen," he said.

Tonight’s tragedy isn’t a first on the Strip.

Stephen Michael Ressa, 27, of Rialto, Calif., intentionally crashed into a cement barrier at Bally’s in September 2005, killing three and injuring 11 others.

Ressa told police he “intentionally steered the vehicle toward” the pedestrians because he was angry at them and thought they were armed. Ressa told police he remembered the people standing in front of his vehicle were staring at him like “demons,” and those that had their hands in their pockets may have been armed with guns.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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