Behind Nicole Linton’s murder charges in Windsor Hills crash

Nicole Lorraine Linton was a traveling nurse, taking shifts across the country and working short distances where she was needed.

Her job took her to North Carolina, Texas, Georgia and finally to California, where she has been licensed since 2021, most recently at Kaiser Permanente’s West Los Angeles Medical Center.

But her moves on Aug. 4 had deadly consequences, prosecutors say.

Surveillance video shows a speeding sedan approaching the busy intersection at La Brea and Slauson Avenues just after 1:30 a.m. that afternoon. Authorities say Linton was behind the wheel of the Mercedes and going 90mph when she pulled through a traffic light that was red for nine seconds and sped into passing traffic.

The fiery multi-vehicle accident left five dead, including a pregnant woman and a baby.

Linton, 37, now faces six counts of homicide and five counts of gross manslaughter by vehicle in connection with the fatal crash.

Authorities are still trying to piece together Linton’s movements and figure out what made her drive so fast and recklessly, sources told The Times.

Linton’s family declined to comment.

Investigators have said she was involved in as many as 13 wrecks before the Windsor Hills crash. Her lawyer has indicated that she suffers from mental health problems. Law enforcement sources told the Times that detectives are trying to determine if she was taking prescribed medication before the crash.

But friends and colleagues struggle to understand how the woman they knew as the consummate professional and kind caregiver could become involved in such a horrific chain of events.

“This is totally out of left field. I’m absolutely shocked,” said a college friend of Linton’s, who requested anonymity. “I was pissed off. … I saw her picture on a blog and honestly thought she was one of the victims.”

“I’m moved to tears that it was Nicole. What a tragedy,” former staffer Alicia Hurley, who worked with Linton at West Houston Hospital, told The Times.

An officer near the crash site

A police officer walks past the scene of the fatal accident in Windsor Hills.

(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times)

But friends and family of those killed in the crash prosecutors say Linton caused are less interested in her background and what may have led to the fatal collision than in her being tried in her death.

Among the dead are 23-year-old Asherey Ryan; their 11-month-old child, Alonzo Quintero; her boyfriend Reynold Lester; and her unborn child. Ryan was 8½ months pregnant when she was killed. The boy she was carrying was named Armani Lester, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner.

Two other women killed in the crash have yet to be identified by authorities, but relatives said they were Nathesia Lewis, 42, and Lynette Noble, 38.

“She has to pay for what she did,” said Clarence “Moezart” Hamlin, Lewis’ friend. “She can’t get away with that.”

Despite the massive damage in the collision, Linton sustained only moderate injuries. A law enforcement source told the Times she suffered a broken foot and wrist. photos posted online After the crash, Linton appear to be shown sitting on the curb with blood on his arm and pants. She appears to be wearing hospital scrub pants and a shirt that has writing on the breastplate and sleeve.

Some Angelenos have made a pilgrimage to the crossroads to mourn and erect makeshift memorials to those killed. The fatal accident has outraged the community, with many wondering how a nurse who authorities say has been linked to so many previous accidents kept her driver’s license.

“She’s taking my sister, my nephews, my brother-in-law. She took my son’s only cousin with her. We’re hurt so badly,” Sha’seana Kerr, Ryan’s sister, said the day after the crash.

“A young family was destroyed in the blink of an eye,” Los Angeles County Dist. atty said George Gascón when announcing the charges against Linton.

If she is mentally unwell, she hides it, her friends said.

“I’m sad because she’s going to have to live with it and experience it and deal with it for the rest of her life.”

– A college friend of Nicole Lorraine Linton who requested anonymity

A baby seat is lying on the street

There is a child car seat at the intersection of Avenues La Brea and Slauson.

(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times)

Linton graduated from Howard University in Washington, DC, in 2007 with a degree in marketing and only afterwards turned to a career in nursing, according to her friend from college. She worked as a technician during nursing school, then as a nurse in the intensive care unit. She eventually became a travel nurse and worked for contract giant AMN Healthcare as of 2020.

She was “very inviting, bubbly. Extremely hard worker,” said her friend, who lived in the same dorm as Linton in Howard, with a beaming smile.

Five years after graduating from Howard, Linton moved to Laredo, Texas, where she worked as a surgical technician at Laredo Medical Center while traveling back and forth to Houston to complete her bachelor’s degree in nursing, a former staffer said.

“She was a highly motivated person, I would say, considering she had another bachelor’s degree and became a surgical technician – totally new areas,” said Arnulfo Salazar, who worked and socialized with Linton in Laredo.

Salazar said that for some of her time in the city, Linton did not own a car. He said they went to parties together, often barbecues in friends’ backyards, and while he didn’t notice any mental health issues, Salazar said Linton could get gloomy.

“She was here alone, so she would be a little down because she was alone,” he said.

Linton then moved to Houston full-time, where she studied anesthesia at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

In Houston she met Hurley, who remembered her as a hardworking and pleasant surgical technician at West Houston Hospital who had many friends. Linton then went to nursing school and began working as an intensive care unit nurse, Hurley said.

“She was kind and considerate of her patients and loved her job. … She was an achiever,” Hurley said.

But as her career progressed, Linton began racking up car accidents, prosecutors say. In 2013, she failed to accelerate at a green light in Laredo and was held up, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. In 2016, the same thing happened in Houston. She was not to blame for any of these accidents.

But the results of the August 4 crash were very different.

“I don’t know of anything that could have put them in space,” Linton’s college friend said of the events leading up to the deadly Windsor Hills crash.

“My heart is breaking,” Hurley said.

But the families of those who lost their lives are also broken. Ryan’s younger sister, Cotie Davis, 20, recalled how she used to do Ryan’s hair and how they were both studying for a college degree in criminal justice.

“I can’t imagine not having her on my graduation,” Davis said before bursting into tears.

Times contributor Jonah Valdez contributed to this report. Behind Nicole Linton’s murder charges in Windsor Hills crash

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