Las Vegas deadly crash suspect was a 'role model' in Portland ed - KPTV - FOX 12

Las Vegas deadly crash suspect was a 'role model' in Portland education program

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Lakeisha Holloway, jail booking photo Lakeisha Holloway, jail booking photo
Scene of deadly crash on Las Vegas Strip Scene of deadly crash on Las Vegas Strip
Car involved in deadly crash on Las Vegas Strip Car involved in deadly crash on Las Vegas Strip

A young woman who was thought to have turned her life around with the assistance of a Portland program is now charged with murder after police said she ran down dozens of people on the Las Vegas Strip.

Prosecutors on Tuesday charged Lakeisha Nicole Holloway, 24, with murder, child abuse and hit-and-run after police said she intentionally plowed a car carrying her young daughter through crowds of pedestrians in front of the Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood casino-hotels Sunday night.

Jessica Valenzuela, 32, of Buckeye, Arizona, was killed. At least 35 people from multiple states, including a group of Pacific University wrestlers in Las Vegas for a tournament, were injured. The local students were all expected to be OK.

Three victims were still in critical condition Tuesday and five others remained hospitalized.

Holloway was on suicide watch in jail, where she is being held without bail. Her 3-year-old daughter was not hurt and was taken into custody by child protective services.

A motive for the crash was unclear, but a picture was emerging of a woman who overcame a rough childhood and homelessness to become an award-winning high school graduate and caring mother - only to have things go terribly awry.

Holloway previously lived in Portland, where she changed her name in October to Paris Paradise Morton, according to court records.

For five years, Holloway was involved with Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, a program that helps young adults find work and succeed in school.

Holloway was enrolled in an internship program and landed a job with the U.S. Forest Service.

"We had two staff members who spent a lot of time with her," said Joe McFerrin, Portland OIC president. "They were shocked with what happened."

McFerrin said Holloway faced barriers to success when she was a freshman at Madison High School, but she overcame them and was considered "a role model for youth we serve in our community."

"Our experience with her was really remarkable with how she turned it around both academically and her sense of hope and success in our training program," McFerrin said.

The last time Holloway was associated with Portland OIC was in 2012.

Additional charges are expected for her, as investigators interview witnesses and review video and physical evidence from the crash.

"I've personally seen the videos from a variety of angles, and I'm appalled at the callousness of this defendant's conduct and what appears to be an intentional act," said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson.

People jumped on the car and banged on its windows, as Holloway kept driving, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said. She went about a mile with a broken windshield and a flattened tire before pulling into an off-Strip hotel and telling a valet to call 911, authorities said.

Holloway showed no resistance when police arrived, and she spoke coherently about what happened, the sheriff said. A police drug-recognition expert said it appeared she wasn't drunk but may have been under the influence of a stimulant.

Copyright 2015 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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