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3 killed in fiery car crash in Studio City

Firefighters work to put out a blaze sparked when a car struck a building in Studio City on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012.
September 9, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Three people were killed when the car they were riding went out of control, crashed and sparked a fire in Studio City on Sunday morning.

Fire officials said two men and a woman were inside the speeding BMW heading eastbound on Ventura Boulevard at Tujunga Avenue just after 3:30 a.m. when the driver lost control. Friends say Pasha Voldokovich was behind the wheel and Jason Shmelnik and Ekatrina Uspshanaya were his passengers.

"It's a devastating loss to all of us," said the victim's friend, Vladimir Zolotarev. "We all knew the two other guys. It is my understanding the girl was visiting them from New York. She came specifically for her birthday party. Nobody can describe how we feel."

Investigators said the car was going so fast it slammed into several parking meters before knocking over two trees and coming to a stop at a palm tree. It also cracked a gas main.

"For a vehicle to shear off a tree, not only one tree but two trees that are in the parkway - and these are good-sized trees - that vehicle was traveling at a very high rate of speed," said Los Angeles Police Lt. Andy Neiman.

The car burst into flames, which spread to a nearby pizzeria.

"When I was calling 911, you could see that the driver he was screaming for help," said witness Troy Aquino.

"Really no one could do anything to help, because they couldn't get close because of the fire," said Los Angeles Fire Batt. Chief Daniel McCarty.

It took crews more than 20 minutes to put that fire out.

The "Jaws of Life" were needed to help the coroner get to the bodies. A hazmat crew was called in to clean up the mess.

Investigators said the group had been at a nightclub in Studio City.

Some friends said they knew Voldokovich wasn't in any condition to drive, but didn't think he would actually climb behind the wheel.

Investigators said they would await drug and toxicology reports to determine if alcohol played a part in the crash.


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