LOS ANGELES – A nurse from Houston with documented mental health issues is facing both murder and manslaughter charges after being formally 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.
Nicole Lorraine Linton, 37, was charged with five counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and six counts of murder 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.
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.
California Highway Patrol investigators identified 13 prior crashes involving Linton. Those incidents are the foundation for the district attorney’s case that she knew the dangers of reckless driving.
However, Gascón said there is no evidence of any alcohol use by Linton at this point.
“I know that some of you spoke to a woman that alleged they have been drinking together. The CHP is working to identify this person, but we don’t have any further information,” he said.
Two female victims have yet to be identified.
Attorney Halim Dhanidina asked the court to continue Linton’s arraignment to October because he is reviewing her out-of-state history of “documented profound mental health issues.”
Dhanidina did not elaborate on Linton’s mental health but said the Windsor Hills crash could be linked to those factors.
“She should have been aware of her limitations” before she got behind the wheel, the judge said in denying Linton’s bail. A hearing on the matter was set for Aug. 15.
Linton was working as a traveling nurse for Kaiser Permanente for two years in West LA and it is unknown if they were aware of her “profound” mental health issues when hiring her. They released a statement that they wouldn’t provide comment on the investigation which they described as “criminal” in nature. It is being alleged she was on-duty when she left her shift and caused the fatal accident.
City News Service and the Times contributed to this report.