“When I see that video, I don’t see Nicole driving…I see her mental illness driving,” her sister wrote.
On August 4, 2022, Nicole Linton, 37, a travel nurse from Houston stationed in the ICU at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, drove through a red light at an LA intersection traveling 130 miles per hour, resulting in a crash that killed six people, including an infant and a pregnant woman and her unborn child. Eight total people, including Linton, were taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center to be treated. Six of the eight patients were teens and the pregnant woman was 23-year-old Asherey Ryan of LA, who died along with her boyfriend and infant child.
Linton was subsequently charged with six counts of murder (including one for the unborn baby) and five counts of vehicular manslaughter.
As Nurse.org previously reported, the speed limit for the area that Linton drove through is only 35 mph. Additionally, there is surveillance video from the crash, which showed Linton’s vehicle running a red light and slamming into cars in the intersection before bursting into flames and being stopped by a light pole. The accident was a horrific one, and while the verdict of Linton’s charges is being deliberated—she faces up to 90 years in prison—her family has posted a website and is now speaking out saying the accident was not purposeful action by Linton, but the result of mental illness.
“Nicole Linton’s Story”
The website, posted by Linton’s sister, is called NicoleLintonStory.com and in a post titled “The True Story of Nicole Linton,” she writes that Linton’s family had elected not to share anything about Linton prior to now out of respect for the victims of the crash and their families. But now, they have posted a 6-part series detailing Linton’s alleged history of mental illness, her journey as a travel nurse, what happened the day of the accident, and a post detailing the difference between manslaughter and murder.
The first post, Nicole Linton’s Mental Health Struggles, states that Linton was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after having her first manic episode in May of 2018. “Up until that point, there was nothing that would’ve led me or other family members to believe that she had a mental illness of any sort,” her sister wrote.
The post alleges that Linton was attending CRNA school when she had her first manic episode. “May 2018 is when everything changed for her,” her sister wrote. “Looking back on it, I believe she fell victim to her own drive and ambition. She was achieving one goal after another with no real breaks in-between. I’m no medical expert but it now seems that the stress of school and other things in her life, triggered or exacerbated some sort of underlying condition.”
Linton’s sister got a phone call from a Houston police officer in May of 2018 that Linton was “deteriorating”, but the post then goes on to describe that Linton was also having “seizure-like” episodes during that time—a fact she claims they only just recently learned—so the post seems to imply the family is now wondering if she could have also been suffering from medical epilepsy at that time as well. She wrote:
“The doctor that is currently evaluating her believes that these symptoms may indicate frontal lobe epilepsy, which often lasts around 30 seconds and can cause stiffness in the body and loss of awareness. It is usually followed by amnesia where the person doesn’t remember blacking out. We are hoping the court will give us permission to have Nicole tested for the neurological and psychiatric conditions that can cause these types of symptoms.
This particular type of epilepsy is oftentimes missed by doctors because many of the symptoms can also indicate psychiatric problems. If she does have a neurological condition on top of or instead of her bipolar disorder, we want to be able to test for it so she can be treated appropriately and so we can better understand what happened on August 4th.”
From that point, Linton’s sister claims Linton was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, treated both in-patient and outpatient, and was able to get back to work. She then had another manic episode in May of 2019 and was once again treated in a psychiatric hospital. After treatment, she dropped out of CRNA school and continued working as a nurse. Linton’s sister then writes the following:
“Two of the components to the prosecutor’s theory on why she should be charged with murder was that she was not taking her mental illness seriously and that this wouldn’t have happened if she had treated it appropriately. I’m not sure how the prosecutors can make such a claim without know nothing about her medical history. We have been reluctant to speak on anything regarding her treatment plan until we had more evidence in the way of her medical records. And as we gather more and more evidence, it shows that she has been compliant with doctors order. And that during the period when she experienced her second manic episode, she was following the treatment plan. So for the prosecutors to claim that this wouldn’t have happened because she wasn’t following a treatment plan is 1. baseless and not backed by any evidence and 2. a misinformed argument to make because people can still have manic episodes while following a treatment plan, which seemed to be the case for Nicole. And if it is the case that she does have a neurological condition, that would also explain why she would still continue to have manic episodes while complying with doctors order because no amount of bipolar medication can fix a seizure disorder.”
Leading Up to the Accident
From there, the series details Linton’s journey to working as a travel nurse, noting that she appeared to be managing her mental health well, even through the pandemic, and she only had one other “mild” manic episode in Feb 2021 that did not require hospitalization and resolved with rest. “For the most part, she was just a normal person who had bipolar disorder that occasionally experienced manic episodes,” Linton’s sister wrote. “This didn’t mean she wasn’t capable of working as a nurse or that she was a danger to her patients. So, it’s important for me to show how she was the majority of the time and that she was not running around ‘crazy’ everywhere she went.”
The next post details the day of the accident—Linton’s sister claims that their family was concerned that Linton was behaving erratically that day.
“Kim and Nicole (Kim is a sister of Linton) spoke pretty much every day and she had started to notice that Nicky behaving erratically and saying things that did not make sense,” she wrote. “Kim called me 4 minutes before the accident saying she was scared Nicole was having another manic episode. Kim also mentioned to me that Nicole went home for lunch at one point, and it was there, while at home, she briefly walked across the screen naked while changing. I just felt I had to clear that part of it due to the misinformation around why and how she was naked. After lunch, Nicole went back to work and was there for some period in a manic state. At some point, while still manic she left work and the accident happened shortly after that.”
Linton’s sister states that she believes the accident was a direct result of her mental illness. “When I see that video, I don’t see Nicole driving…I see her mental illness driving,” she wrote. “Something must’ve happened that caused her to completely disassociate with reality, from the fact that there was no reaction from her to break or swerve. Was it something similar to what happened in May 2018, when she became completely catatonic at the police station? Could she really have a neurological condition like frontal lobe epilepsy that could’ve caused her to go stiff and have amnesia? These are questions we would like to have answered and why we want to get her into a treatment facility to be fully tested and properly diagnosed.”
Who is Nicole Linton?
Linton’s sister stressed that their family is not trying to downplay or “absolve” Linton of her actions in leading to the deaths, but to tell the truth about who their sister is:
“Nicole is supported by a large family who loves her deeply. For over a month, the media, social media, and prosecutors, have been telling Nicole’s story in what seems like an attempt to paint her as this reckless and/or suicidal murderer. But her family knows the real Nicky and we had to sit back quietly while the whole world berated and dehumanized her.
I hope the families affected by this tragedy don’t feel as if we are trying to have Nicole absolved from any sort of accountability. What we want is to make sure that, whatever the rule of law is for situations like this, is applied fairly to Nicole’s case. But from our point of view, it seems as though she is facing way too harsh of a charge and as her family, we cannot just sit on the sidelines.”