A woman driving an old limousine ran down another woman in a Skid Row drug dispute, dragging her for almost a mile to her death early Thursday before pursuing police finally stopped the car, authorities said.
The death occurred in a grimy area of downtown Los Angeles whose sidewalks by day are filled with street vendors and shoppers. But after nightfall, the area becomes a desolate destination for drug dealers and transients who bed down on the sidewalks.
"This kind of thing happens a lot here," said Heather Harcus, a 50-year-old sidewalk resident who said she knew the victim, Sonia Taunauu, by sight. "It's a shame."
Harcus said Taunauu, 25, was known around Skid Row as "China."
The driver, Nancy Lekon, 43, collapsed at the scene and was taken to a hospital before being booked for investigation of vehicular homicide, Sgt. Dan Eun said.
The two women began arguing around 2 a.m. in an industrial area near Skid Row known for drug dealing. "It was a dispute over narcotics," Eun said.
Lekon, who was driving a battered black 1989 Cadillac limousine, left the area but then returned and allegedly struck the woman. "She came back intentionally targeting the victim," Eun said.
The limo dragged Taunauu for about eight-tenths of a mile through Skid Row streets, at one point driving past a police station. An unmarked police car finally saw the limo and stopped it a block away.
Officers tried to extricate Taunauu, who was still alive, but she died of her injuries at the scene, Eun said.