LAS VEGAS — Not long ago, the woman arrested in the deadly Las Vegas Strip sidewalk crash seemed to be doing well for herself.
After a rough childhood that included a period of homelessness in high school, Lakeisha Holloway had become an award-winning high school graduate and caring mother.
That deepens the mystery of how she wound up in a Las Vegas jail and on suicide watch. The 24-year-old Holloway faces murder charges after authorities said she plowed her Oldsmobile down a sidewalk busy with tourists Sunday night, killing one person and injuring three dozen others while her 3-year-old daughter sat in the back seat of the careening car.
After reviewing video surveillance footage, police said they believe Holloway drove up on the sidewalk deliberately.
They say she was homeless, and out of money, sleeping in her car in parking garages. She might have been on her way to Texas to meet with the father of her daughter, a relationship that split up some time ago.
After her arrest, Holloway “described a stressful period today where she was trying to rest/sleep inside her vehicle with her daughter but kept getting run off by security of the properties she stopped at,” a police report states.
“She ended up on the Strip, ‘a place she did not want to be,”’ the report quoted her as saying. “She would not explain why she drove onto the sidewalk but remembered a body bouncing off her windshield, breaking it.”
She parked at a casino a few blocks away, told a parking attendant that she had run down people and asked the valet to call the emergency 911 number, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said. Her daughter was not injured.
The sheriff said Holloway was stoic when police arrived, showed no resistance and spoke coherently about what happened.
Authorities declined to comment on a potential motive and said they were struggling to piece together Holloway’s background.
She had changed her name to Paris Paradise Morton in October, according to Oregon court records.
Court records show she was charged in Oregon in 2011 with operating a vehicle without driving privileges and driving uninsured. She was convicted in March 2012.
Holloway’s cousin, Lashay Hardaway, told The Oregonian that Holloway worked hard to provide for her daughter.
“She’s just always thinking about her daughter or the next thing she needs to take care of,” Hardaway told the newspaper, adding her cousin was a working mother who “makes good money.”
There was no evidence that Holloway had consumed alcohol, but a drug recognition expert at the scene determined that she was under the influence of some sort of stimulant, Lombardo said.
Holloway, who was being held without bail, will be charged with murder with a deadly weapon, said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, who anticipated “a great number” of additional charges.
Holloway was under suicide watch at jail, said Deputy Clark County Public Defender Scott Coffee said. A Clark County spokesman said the woman’s daughter was being cared for by child protective services.
At least 35 people injured in the crash were taken to hospitals, including three people still in critical condition with head injuries, officials said.