LOS ANGELES – Charges have been upgraded against a Houston woman after a fiery crash at a Los Angeles intersection that killed six people, including a pregnant woman, and injured several others, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón announced Monday.
Nicole Lorraine Linton, 37, sustained moderate injuries in the crash, California Highway Patrol officials said in a release. She was driving her Mercedes-Benz when she allegedly blew through a red light at a busy intersection, causing a chain-reaction crash involving multiple vehicles.
Linton has been charged with six counts of murder and five counts of vehicular manslaughter and gross negligence, according to the DA. She faces up to 90 years in prison if convicted.
Family members confirmed to KNBC that Linton was a traveling nurse from Houston working in Los Angeles.
Video showed the Mercedes careening through an intersection, striking at least two cars that exploded in flames and were sent hurtling onto a sidewalk, winding up against the gas station’s corner sign. A fiery streak led to one car. One vehicle was torn in half.
“It was definitely one of the most horrific crashes that we’ve seen,” CHP Officer Franco Pepi told The Associated Press on Friday.
The car was going at least 50 mph (80 kph) as it raced through the crowded intersection, Pepi said Thursday. Eight people were taken to the hospital, including Linton.
The other victims had minor injuries and included a 33-year-old woman and six children ranging in age from 1 to 15 years old, Pepi said.
A memorial grew outside the intersection Friday, as mourners left flowers and candles in memory of the dead.
Prosecutors said they could receive the case as early as next Monday and will then decide whether to file criminal charges.
It was not immediately clear whether Linton, 37, had an attorney who could comment on her behalf.
The Mercedes-Benz sedan never appeared to brake as it flew through the intersection and Pepi said detectives are looking into whether Linton had a medical episode or was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Several people were flung from the cars and two vehicles caught fire. Television reports showed the blackened and mangled cars, as well as a child’s car seat among the debris covering the street.
Henry Sanchez, who works at nearby Sinclair Gas, was at the indoor register when he heard “the loudest noise I’ve ever heard.”
“The sound of it, it was gut-wrenching,” he told the AP on Friday. “It was like two trains hitting each other, metal on metal.”
He saw people rush to the cars to offer aid but they were kept back by the flames until firefighters arrived.
“I remember everybody trying to get the fire down and help people out as much as they could, but nobody could do anything,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.