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las vegas strip crash ap photo 960 compressed
Crews try to clear the road after a car chase and shoot-out led to a deadly crash with a taxi. Three people died, including Sandra Sutton-Wasmund from Maple Valley. (AP Photo)

Las Vegas strip shooting victim not just a name

Sue VanRuff felt a mixture of shock and awe when she heard about the dramatic car chase and shooting that led to three deaths on the Las Vegas strip. Until she found out it was her friend, Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, who died in a taxi caught in the crossfire.

Sue told Dori that Sandra's friends in Maple Valley remember her as a businesswoman, cancer survivor, wife, and mother.

"I call her a people-gatherer. She was a people-magnet," said Sue. "She'd take any situation and make it an event. She was just so full of life and full of fun."

Sandra was a 48-year-old two-time breast cancer survivor who always had a cause, was always looking for someone to help. She was a leader of Valley Guys and Gals, an organization dedicated to raising money for breast cancer research. She was also active in local schools and the business community.

Sue and Sandra worked together at the Maple Valley Chamber of Commerce, where Sandra was the marketing and membership representative. Her friend said that Sandra was the kind of woman who wanted to know everyone, and actively sought out new members of the Chamber.

Sandra and her husband also started a plumbing business together before she started her own dress shop, called The Dazzled Dame. Sandra was at a trade show with her business partner in Las Vegas when she was killed.

The crash came after a car chase in which suspects in a Range Rover SUV fired shots at Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr., who then crashed his Maserati into a taxi cab.

Sandra and her driver, 62-year-old Michael Boldon, died when the cab caught fire. Cherry died after bystanders pulled him out of the Maserati and tried to perform CPR.

Police searched for days before finding the SUV and identifying a man they suspect to be the driver: Ammar Harris, an ex-convict police say was working as a pimp in Las Vegas.

Sue heard about the shooting before she knew that her friend was involved. She said she had the typical reaction: it was tragic and reckless. It was only when Sandra's business partner called her that she realized it was her friend who had died.

Dori could only imagine the grief Sandra's husband must have experienced, and hoped that shedding light on her life, rather than on the criminals that caused her death, would honor her memory.

"Her friends and family are devastated at the loss," said Dori. "I wanted Sandra to not just be a name that you hear, but I wanted you to know who the person was."

Jillian Raftery, Social Media Captain
Jillian Raftery is a social media captain for the Dori Monson Show. She loves the neighborly vibe of the Pacific Northwest and spends as much time as possible outdoors.
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