By Emilie St. John
WINDSOR HILLS — Victims’ family members joined with county Supervisor Holly Mitchell and local residents Aug. 4 to mark the one-year anniversary of a fiery crash that killed six people, including an infant, a pregnant woman and her fetus.
The event near the intersection of La Brea and Slauson avenues, near Ladera Park, featured the unveiling of the Slauson Six Memorial Bench and Community Garden. The memorial was placed on land donated by owners of the gas station on the corner where the crash occurred.
The Aug. 4, 2022 crash occurred when a Mercedes-Benz sped through the intersection of La Brea and Slauson — plowing through a red light in the 35-miles-an-hour zone on La Brea at a speed authorities estimated at close to 100 mph.
The crash ignited an inferno as a sedan struck by the Mercedes was pushed into at least one other vehicle, with both winding up against a gas station sign on the corner. A trail of fire was left as the vehicles struck by the speeding driver were engulfed in flames.
Killed were Asherey Ryan, 23, of Los Angeles; her year-old son, Alonzo Quintero, Ryan’s boyfriend, Reynold Lester, who was the father of her unborn son; Nathesia Lewis, 43, and her friend, 38-year-old Lynette Noble.
In all, eight vehicles, including the Mercedes-Benz, were involved in the collision, the California Highway Patrol reported. Eight other people were injured.
A traveling nurse from Texas, Nicole Lorraine Linton, survived the crash with moderate injuries and was charged with six counts of murder and five counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
Linton was arrested by the CHP the day of the crash and remains jailed without bail. She is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Sept. 12.
A date is scheduled to be set then for a preliminary hearing, at which a judge will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to require her to stand trial. Linton’s attorney has indicated in news reports that she suffers from mental health issues.
Community activists gathered at the intersection following the crash a year ago, creating a memorial of candles and flowers.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, who lives near the crash site, told reporters at the time that the intersection has been historically dangerous with speeding vehicles, as well as the scene of occasional street takeovers.
About a month after the crash, the Board of Supervisors called for a series of studies and immediate steps aimed at slowing traffic at the crossroad and other high-danger roadways.
“Disturbingly, traffic fatalities have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, and reckless speeding, street takeovers and erratic driver behavior has become widespread,” Mitchell wrote in a motion at the time.
“We need to explore the availability of additional tools to improve our infrastructure and to hold people accountable to mitigate dangerous driver behavior and keep people alive.”
A year later, Ali called the event “truly a dark day in the history of Los Angeles.”
“Out of it, our community truly became a village to help all the grieving families and turned the nearby accident site into a beautiful oasis,” he added.
“It was important to ensure that the Slauson Six memorial bench and community garden would be a place of not just remembrance but of healing for the family’s and community members and I’m grateful that Rocket Stores management supported my idea immediately and with the support of Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell and her staff, which did a lot of the heavy lifting behind the scenes, it ensured our community has a beautiful oasis to help us all heal from this tragedy,” Ali said
Mitchell said she hopes the memorial serves as a reminder for people to be safe on the road and of the consequences of reckless driving.
“This memorial gives us a place to, if you will, lay down the burden, to honor them,” she said. “But it gives us a place to come to, to reflect and think about … not only those six lives lost and what their futures could have been, but what responsibility each of us individually have to make sure that all of our communities are safe.
The Slauson Six Memorial Bench and Community Garden is located at 4700 W. Slauson Blvd.
City News Service contributed to this story.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.