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.