2 Good Samaritans Dead in Fire Hydrant Crash

Two women die trying to help the victim of a car crash on Magnolia Boulevard in Valley Village.

Five people were hospitalized in serious condition with electrical burns Thursday following a freak traffic accident in which an SUV sheared off a fire hydrant and knocked down a light pole in the Valley Village section of the San Fernando Valley, creating a highly charged pool of water in which two women were electrocuted, authorities said.

The women, one of whom was identified this morning as 40-year-old Irma Zamora of Burbank, died from shocks they suffered when they rushed to the
accident site to assist the SUV driver, said Detective William Bustos of the
Los Angeles Police Department's Valley Traffic Division.

The injured victims were in serious condition today and being treated at
hospitals in the San Fernando Valley, Bustos said.

The crash occurred in the 12000 block of Magnolia Boulevard near Ben Avenue about 8:25 p.m. Wednesday and left six people injured in addition to the two dead good Samaritans, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik

"Seven of the people, including the two women who died, were taken to
hospitals for treatment and one other person who was injured declined to be
transported,'' Scott said.

Glendale resident Arman Samsonian, 19, was identified by the LAPD as the driver of the vehicle. He was hospitalized after the crash, which is still under investigation.

The scene was chaotic -- the SUV on the lawn of a residence, water gushing from the sheared-off fire hydrant and pooling, passersby rushing to provide help, the light standard laying across the ground, and, concealed by the darkness and commotion, the wires that had powered the light now sticking
out of the ground.

Christy Vergini, a 17-year-old who lives on Ben Avenue, heard the crash from her home. When she went to check out what happened, she saw the unidentified woman who later died step on the electrified water.

"I saw some lady come, I saw her step into the water, her arms stiffened and she fell flat on her back," Vergini said, adding: "I was hesitating whether or not to go help. I went back to my house to call 911."

"This was a tragic accident,'' said Los Angeles police Sgt. Art Gomez, a watch commander at Valley Traffic Division. "We lost two women, two good Samaritans, who tried to help the SUV driver...
"The first woman, who was about 39 years old, rushed out of her
residence which was near the accident and ran to help the driver,'' Gomez told
City News Service. "Apparently, she didn't see the wires that were down in the
water and got electrocuted.''

The second woman who died was riding in a car several cars behind the
ill-fated SUV, Gomez said.

"That woman ... got out of the car with her husband. While he called 911, she ran over to help the first woman who went down and stepped into the water and got electrocuted too.

"Her husband seeing his wife go down ran over to help her and he got shocked,'' Gomez said. "He kept trying to get his wife up and out of the water
but he kept getting shocked. Finally, other people pulled him away and wouldn't
let him go back into the water.''

Gomez said another male driver behind the motorist who crashed got out
of his car and tried to help but received a shock. Similarly, the SUV driver
received a shock when he got out of his car and tried to help the first woman
who was electrocuted.

"Those three men -- the motorist who crashed, the driver behind him and
the husband of the woman who died --were all hospitalized with serious
burns,'' Gomez said.

A 2012 Chevy Traverse was heading westbound on Magnolia when the driver tried to make a right turn from the left lane and lost control of the vehicle, according to a statement from the LAPD.

Why the SUV driver lost control of his vehicle was not immediately clear.

"Our detectives are still investigating why he lost control, but there was no drugs or alcohol involved in the accident,'' Gomez said this morning.

"This is a tragic, tragic accident,'' Scott said. "Here's a case where we have many people with good intentions trying to save people and two of them died as a result. This is also another reminder to people who want to help at the scene of an accident that they need to stay aware of their surroundings and if there is any question as to their safety, they should wait for rescuers to arrive.''

The Department of Water and Power was called to help firefighters deal with the electrical and water problems.

Firefighters worked aggressively to shut down the flow of water and treat the injured.

Water from the hydrant was flowing down Magnolia toward Colfax Avenue around 9:30 p.m., but was later shut off, said LADWP spokesman Jane Galbraith.

Anyone with information on the crash was asked to call Detective William
Bustos of the  LAPD Valley Traffic Division at (818) 644-8000. All tips can
be made anonymously.

Patch will keep you updated on this story.

Jean pringle August 23, 2012 at 06:01 AM
Oh shit!
Jean pringle August 23, 2012 at 06:04 AM
We give every g*d damn clown a drivers license, what else would happen??? ROMNEY 2012!!!
natalie mata August 23, 2012 at 06:20 AM
Jean, What does Romney have to do with this situation? Clearly, you are insane, which is typical of someone who would vote for that clown.
Laura August 23, 2012 at 06:50 AM
Natalie - you hit it on the nose. Meanwhile, back to the point, this is a real tragedy. Those poor people who tried to help.
Danielle Directo-Meston August 23, 2012 at 07:03 AM
What a tragedy. My husband and I were walking to dinner with friends when we saw fire truck after police car after fire truck rush to the scene. We didn't want to be lookie-loos so we went along on our way...Our thoughts are with their loved ones.
Toluca Lake Observer August 23, 2012 at 07:12 AM
Why in the world would anyone with a functioning brain use the comment section of a tragic news story to promote a political candidate? Oh, that's right. The right-wingers are so clueless they simply blather on without a brain driving them. Go away and hide under your tinfoil hat, Jeannie baby!
robert August 23, 2012 at 12:55 PM
So so sad. I was up for a couple hours because of the helicopter noise. I can't believe that two people dies trying to rescue the driver. God bless their soul and I'm glad atleast the driver is ok.
Bob Peppermuller August 23, 2012 at 04:34 PM
The Village Village Neighborhood Council around the corner had just ended when this happened. I pray to God none of them were involved. To all you Occupy Democrats and Right Wingers above: what do you think the "Flag as inappropriate" box is for? Let the investigators finish their analysis before drawing any conclusions.
Don Jagg August 23, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Nothing. It's her signature. Why not concentrate on the comment. The LAPD news release said that this guy was heading west on Magnolia in the far left lane when he tried to make a right turn onto Ben. He ended up on the far left curb. As a result of his reckless driving, two women are dead. I hope some brave prosecuter has the balls to charge him with two counts of murder, or at least manslaughter.
Mari Yeghiazaryan August 23, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Very sad :/// God bless their soul !!:/;(;; ( PEOPLE REMEMBER SAFETY FIRST !!!! SAFETY is very important !!
Jock August 24, 2012 at 12:19 AM
This is a terrible tragedy. An accident that didn't need to happen. Beautiful caring souls lost trying to rescue someone. if I read about one more big SUV careening out of control and killing I may vomit. Over bridges from skidding (2 in the last months) and now this. Pattern ? Perhaps these giant wagons being driven by aggressive careless people say a great deal about our times here.
jo August 25, 2012 at 02:58 AM
19 year old armenian racing another car,,,look for second driver, there is a cameras on all intersections, car end up on the sidewalk, surprise he didnt nail any one on it.
jo August 25, 2012 at 03:50 AM
what kind of moron designes electrical pole next to fire hydrant, here is a real criminal
Jack M August 25, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Umm jo, take a look around on all the streets and look above you. There are a maze of electric wires running up and down the streets, particularly Magnolia, Vineland, etc. This is another reason to bury those ugly eyesores underground as they do in modern cities. The post that was nearby the fire hydrant was just happenstance, it wasn't planned for sure. Sorry for those two good samaritians who certainly did not need to die over this.
Don Jagg August 25, 2012 at 04:48 AM
I'm sure the "moran" is dead. Both were installed back in the '30s. I doubt that they considered that some knucklehead would be racing a giant SUV and lose control, 80 years later. The problem is that these old light standards are running on 4800 volts at 6 amps, and they do not have circuit breakers. They can be retrofitted, but the city is nearly bankrupt, so don't expect that to happen soon. Please keep in mind exactly where the blame should be placed.
jo August 25, 2012 at 06:04 AM
to Don Jagg and Jack M, you both right, Driver definitely out of control and have to pay for it, I cant wish this to anyone.., but city must find a way to make it safer for everyone, cops are too expensive to control drivers, may be bringing back web cams on every corner and fixing those old lights and cut pay for city employees. This is richest country in the world…there is million ways to find cash, for example to make car racers to pay for damages. Ask that guy who lost his wife, how to fix city budget.
Just someone August 25, 2012 at 07:07 AM
This is a tragic, sad incident where unfortunate circumstances converged. It is just life. However, this should be food for serious thought not only on the prevalent reckless driving habits, outdated, hazardous infrastructure layout on the streets, but also on the poor knowledge on how to render appropriate help to a victim of an accident without jeopardizing one's own life. Basic training courses in this regard should be mandatory for all population.
John August 26, 2012 at 03:13 AM
I drive on Magnolia every day to my work from Sherman Oaks and back. There is only one lane before Ben Ave and a shoulder. So he could not make a right turn from a left lane when he was driving west. Perhaps, he was just too late to put his brakes when he started making a right turn and lost control of his vehicle. It's just all about lack of driving skills and experience if no drugs or alcohol involved.
Kim Neal August 26, 2012 at 05:56 AM
The driver is at fault here. He is young and inexperienced. He feels adequately educated to try an illegal maneuver. He certainly wasn't racing. He had no idea of the devastation that would play out with such tragic results. We all think we're invincible..he would take it back if he could. Wish peace and love to all involved. Young driver.in time..forgive yourself & share your story with other people..
frank diamond September 02, 2012 at 01:43 AM
frank diamond September 02, 2012 at 02:11 AM
I second Kim. An 18 y/o should not be in an SUV. Symptom of overpriviledge


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