WASHINGTON - A woman with a history of DUIs has been arrested and charged in connection with a March 15 crash on Rock Creek Parkway that killed a Lyft driver and two men he was taking home from a night out in D.C., according to Park Police and court records.
Nakita Marie Walker, a 43-year-old from Washington, was charged with second-degree murder in the crash, which police have said occurred after she fled a traffic stop in an SUV and crashed into a Lyft. She was previously convicted three separate times of driving under the influence and twice settled in civil cases where she was accused of negligent and careless driving that injured other people, court records show.
In two of the DUI cases, she was sentenced to 15 days of confinement, court records show. In all of them, she faced probation with conditions, including at one point not being allowed to drive unless the vehicle had an ignition interlock.
The District’s Department of Motor Vehicles would not immediately say whether Walker had a valid driver’s license at the time of the crash and whether she had completed required traffic safety programs that came with her criminal cases. Efforts to reach her relatives were not successful. No lawyer could immediately be located for her on the newly filed case.
Families of the victims of the crash - Mohamed Kamara, 42, the Lyft driver, and Olvin Torres Velasquez and Jonathan Cabrera Mendez, the 23-year-olds in his ride-share - had called for authorities to hold Walker accountable. On Monday, some of those relatives said they were relieved to learn of the charge.
“We can’t bring him back and all the other folks who lost their lives in that accident,” said Mohamed Fofana, 44, Kamara’s brother-in-law. “But it’s a step toward accountability and making sure that person is held responsible for destroying three family’s lives.”
Leslie Torres, Torres Velasquez’s cousin, said: “It makes me happy and sad at the same time, because I know that it won’t bring him back but at least justice is being done, which is what we want.”
Torres accompanied her cousin’s body to his hometown in Honduras to deliver it to his mother. She said the family buried him in April, and that for weeks they had been seeking answers about why it took so long to file charges.
“When that mother saw her son arrive in a coffin, it was the worst moment of her life,” Torres, 27, said. “It was the saddest thing to see her burying her son. What she demands is justice. Yes, that is what we all demand. Justice. Let that person pay for what they did.”
The deadly crash occurred in the wee morning hours. Torres Velasquez and his friend Cabrera had called a Lyft home from D.C. after a late dinner, relatives said. Kamara, who was working extra hours to save up for his first trip to see his wife and daughter in Sierra Leone, had picked them up in his Honda.
Around 1:30 a.m., U.S. Park Police tried to stop Walker for a speeding violation, the department previously said. She fled in an SUV and, according to authorities, collided with Kamara’s sedan - killing all three people inside.
Park Police previously said a man and a woman were inside the SUV and transported to a hospital with injuries that were initially believed to be life-threatening. Both survived.
At the time, the SUV Walker drove had more than 40 outstanding traffic tickets with fines that totaled $12,300. It was unclear Monday afternoon whether the SUV belonged to her. Police have not said whether alcohol played a role in the crash.
The SUV was far from the only vehicle in the region to rack up significant unpaid fines. According to data from the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, more than 2,100 vehicles in D.C. had at least 40 outstanding tickets, and about 1,200 cars were linked to fines exceeding $20,000 over the past five years. In all, more than 6.2 million traffic tickets totaling nearly $1.3 billion in fines and penalties had not been paid to D.C. since Jan. 1, 2000. A city council member has since called a roundtable, scheduled for Tuesday, to discuss frequent offenders on the roads.
Under D.C. law, speeding violations captured by a traffic cameras mean the owner of the vehicle can rack up fines, but the ticket is not tied to a particular driver. A person’s license can be revoked for driving recklessly, under the influence or other major moving violations.
Court records show Walker has a history of driving offenses dating back more than a decade. In 2010, she was charged with driving without a license. That case was dropped. Five years later, Walker was charged with driving under the influence. She was convicted after a trial in 2016 and given 15 days confinement and a year of probation.
In 2018, a man brought a civil suit against her in regards to a crash two years earlier. That case settled.
Later in 2018, a police officer found Walker asleep at the wheel at a traffic light on Sumner Road in Southeast D.C., court documents alleged. She was charged with DUI and ultimately pleaded guilty and was given 15 days confinement and three years of probation. She was also ordered to complete drug and alcohol treatment and testing and ordered to use an ignition interlock device when she drove.
In 2020, a police officer found Walker asleep at the wheel on the shoulder in the Third Street Tunnel and charged her with another DUI. She pleaded guilty, and in April 2022, a judge gave her a suspended sentence and 18 months of probation.
In 2021, a woman brought a civil suit against Walker for a 2018 crash - accusing her of backing her car into her and fleeing the scene. That case also settled.
Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who chairs the council’s transportation committee and has called for a “larger conversation” around enforcement of reckless driving, said the crash and the suspect’s driving record shows a breakdown in the government’s ability to go after dangerous drivers.
“It’s abundantly clear that the enforcement tools that we have clearly failed here,” said Allen, who is holding a roundtable discussion Tuesday focused on enforcement strategies to keep dangerous drivers off the roads. “This person should have lost their ability to drive. The sheer number of dangerous reckless driving, plus the DUIs, this is not somebody who should be able to drive on our streets. Period.”