Driver plowed onto Las Vegas Strip sidewalk deliberately, killing one and injuring 35

Vehicle traffic on the Las Vegas Strip is closed as police investigate the area where a woman deliberately drove her car  into pedestrians on the sidewalks.
Vehicle traffic on the Las Vegas Strip is closed as police investigate the area where a woman deliberately drove her car into pedestrians on the sidewalks. PHOTO: AFP

LAS VEGAS (REUTERS) - One person was killed and 35 injured on Sunday night when a woman deliberately drove her car onto a crowded sidewalk on the Las Vegas Strip, police said, near the hotel where the Miss Universe beauty pageant was being held. Three of the injured were in critical condition with head injuries, police said. 

The woman, who had a 3-year-old girl in the car with her, later drove to a casion, contacted a valet parking attendant and told him to call 911 to turn herself in to police. She was taken into custody and was expected to be charged on Monday, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officials told reporters. 

She was later identified at a press conference as Lakeisha Holloway, 24, by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sheriff Joe Lombardo.

Justin Cochrane, a tourist who was having dinner on the Strip, told CNN the sedan with a cracked windshield barreled past him at about 48 km per hour. The driver swerved to avoid a truck, then accelerated back onto the sidewalk, he said.

"It was mayhem, and it was very intentional," he said."People were flying. This child I saw, literally, hit, and the sound, I'll never forget."

Police said the driver had mounted the curb as many as three times before fleeing the scene. CNN reported that she was being tested for drug and alcohol use.

 

Sheriff Lombardo gave no indications as to a motive and said; "I do not believe it to be an act of terrorism." But he added given the nature of the incident and the lack of information on Holloway's background: "We're not 100 per cent ruling out the possibility of terrorism. The intentional act  that occurred on the boulevard is going to be very hard for us to explain at face value."

"We do have pretty detailed video that shows that it was an intentional act," Lombardo said. He said the woman "repeatedly  drove her car over pedestrians. Some jumped on her car, ran up to the window and banged on it trying to get her to stop. But she didn't."

Victims included people from Quebec, Oregon, Colorado, Florida, Washington, California and Mexico. 

The United States has been on edge  since 14 people were killed in a Dec 2 attack in San Bernardino, California, by two radicalised Muslims who opened fire at a holiday party.

Las Vegas authorities gave an injury tally of 35, and said those who were in critical condition had been stabilised. The young child accompanying the driver was not hurt.

University Medical Centre treated 15 patients, with three listed as critical, two discharged and the rest in serious condition, a spokeswoman said in an email.

An 11-year-old was among the injured, along with visitors from Montreal, Canada, she said.

A witness said emergency and police vehicles swarmed the area. Some passersby were using smartphones to snap photos of the scene while others seemed more focused on the glitzy sights of the famed Strip.

Authorities said the crash occurred, when the Miss Universe pageant was nearing its finale at the nearby Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.