A generous and gentle soul who put others before herself: That’s how friends described 36-year-old Melissa Newton. Newton’s friends say her death saddens them, but they know her legacy will live on forever.
“She’s just beautiful; she’s just like you can see her smile,” said Penelope Lohr, a friend.
Scrolling through photos of Newton — Lohr is still in disbelief that her friend is gone. Lohr volunteered with Newton at Nevada Ballet Theatre. Both of their daughters dance in the company.
“You could just tell, her whole life was those girls,” Lohr said.
Described as a devoted mother of three, Newton made her mark on the valley. She was well-loved in the real estate industry, and she built homes with Habitat for Humanity.
“She was just so sweet, and just a kind lady, and to hear that she had tragically passed in this accident; it just makes me sad,” said Lohr.
Metro Police said Newton was killed when she was thrown from a vehicle in an alleged DUI wreck last week.
The driver, 53-year-old Scott Gragson, faces felony charges for the crash that occurred on Granite Ridge Drive south of Grey Feather Drive, near Flamingo Road and Town Center Drive. Gragson is the grandson of former Las Vegas Mayor Oran Gragson.
8 News NOW learned Gragson’s blood alcohol content was .147, which is well above the legal limit. An arrest report details that Gragson told police he consumed four to five mixed drinks and some beer at an all-day golf charity event, before getting behind the wheel.
“Very sad and so frustrating,” Crsenciana Alcadar, a neighbor said.
Neighbors say it’s shocking to hear one of their own has lost their life.
“I’m sad because of this DUI,” said Alcadar. “For the family of Melissa, I am very sorry that this happened.”
Family members at Newton’s home did not want to comment, while friends say everyone should focus on the bright light Newton was.
“It’s so sad to lose somebody, over something that maybe could have been avoided,” Lohr said.
Gragson faces three felony counts of DUI and three felony counts of reckless driving. He’s due back in court in late October.
Newton’s family has started a GoFundMe to help raise funds.