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Valley Village electrocution crash: driver to stand trial

July 24, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A driver has been ordered to stand trial after a fire hydrant crash that led to the deaths of two bystanders, electrocuted as they tried to help.

Armen Samsonian, 20, looked down as he sat in the courtroom Wednesday at a preliminary hearing. The prosecution argued that his driving was negligent and led to the deaths of two women.

"Speeding down a crowded road in a lane you're not supposed to be in is inherently dangerous, and a reasonable person would have known that acting that way would have caused such a risk," said L.A. County Deputy District Attorney Ron Carey.

It happened in August 2012. Police say Samsonian was speeding west on Magnolia Boulevard. One officer testified Wednesday that Samsonian got impatient and began driving in the center turn lane to bypass traffic. He made a right turn on Ben Avenue, striking a fire hydrant and a light pole.

The live wires from the pole came into contact with the water. Irma Zamora and Stacey Schreiber went to help and were electrocuted as they stepped in the water.

The judge Wednesday agreed with the prosecution and ruled the suspect was driving negligently and ruled he will stand trial for felony vehicular manslaughter.

"There is not one case in U.S. history like this, so how can that be foreseeable?" said defense attorney Andrew Flier.

Flier admitted his client might have been speeding, but argues no one knew there could be live wires, and Samsonian should not be responsible for the deaths of the two women.

"The actions of the two females when they entered that area, that's a dangerous area. What is my client supposed to do? He is hurt in the car, he wants to help people -- why is he the defendant?" said Flier.

If convicted, Samsonian faces at least seven years in prison. The judge set a trial date for August 7.


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