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by | Dec 31, 2018 | Business, Crime, News, Traffic & Roads | 0 comments

A mother of three in Las Vegas was killed while trying to stop a customer from walking out without paying for a $35 manicure, police and her heartbroken partner said.

Nhu Nguyen, a 53-year-old mother and grandmother of two, was working at Crystal Nails & Spa on West Flamingo Road last Saturday afternoon, when a female customer decided she was going to skip her bill after her credit card was repeatedly declined, Nguyen’s boyfriend of 13 years told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The unidentified customer then told Nguyen she was going to get some cash from her car, but instead drove off in a black, newer-model Chevrolet Camaro — a rental car that police said was reported stolen about three weeks earlier.

Nguyen tried grabbing onto the car’s shattered rear window, but the customer was undeterred — dragging the woman through the lot before speeding away, according to her boyfriend, Sonny Chung, who is also co-manager of the salon.

“My wife ran out and tried to stop her, and then she rolled forward,” Chung, who was never legally married to Nguyen, told the newspaper. “She kept pushing the gas, and my wife fell off, and she kept pushing more, and she dragged her from here to over there [roughly 50 feet away].”

Despite his best efforts, Chung was unable to reach Nguyen, or slow down the fleeing Camaro, he said.

Although Chung and Nguyen never married, he said, they had lived together and managed the salon together for nearly 13 years.

“She kept pushing the gas, and my wife fell off, and she kept pushing more, and she dragged her from here to over there,” he said, gesturing from the parking spots in front of the salon toward a McDonald’s about 50 feet away.

If the driver had put the brakes on even once, Nguyen would have had time to get out of the car’s path, Chung said.

“I tried to hold the car back, but I’m not Superman,” Chung said, his eyes red and brimming with tears. “She ran off for $35 and killed my wife — $35 to run my wife over.”

Nguyen was later taken to University Medical Center, where she died from injuries she sustained during the incident, police said.

The Camaro, meanwhile, was found abandoned later Saturday at a nearby apartment complex. Investigators were still trying to identify the suspect, who was described as a white woman in her 20s.

“We do not believe the person who originally rented the car is the suspect,” he said Sunday.

Nguyen left behind three daughters, ages 20, 25 and 28, and two grandchildren, ages 4 and 6. The daughters, who live in California, were in town visiting their mother and Chung for the holidays, he said.

They were all gathered inside the salon about 10 a.m. Sunday, and by sundown, the family had placed flowers and candles next to a framed photo of Nguyen outside the store, which will be closed “until further notice,” according to a sign on the front door.

Taped to the glass window just above Nguyen’s photo were letters to the manicurist from her niece, Hannah Nguyen, and grandchildren. Sunday night, the orange light from the candles revealed a drawing of Nguyen under a vase of flowers. In it, she has angel wings and a halo, floating in the sky among clouds.

The drawing is signed by Hannah, “your lovely neice.”

Flowers, candles and a photograph of Nguyen were placed by relatives and friends outside the salon, which will be closed “until further notice,” according to a sign on the door.

Chung said Nguyen rarely took a minute to rest and spent the bulk of the past decade working without days off at the salon, where she often stayed well past closing time to clean up after starting her day more than 12 hours earlier.

“She was a hard worker,” Chung said. “That’s all she does. She’s a work addict … She worked every day — every day — seven days a week.”

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