The single-vehicle crash happened around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on the 12000 block of Magnolia Boulevard near Laurel Canyon Boulevard. Authorities said the driver lost control of his vehicle when he attempted to make a turn from Magnolia Boulevard.
Irma Zamora, 41, rushed to help the driver and was shocked by water energized by the power line and later died.
Zamora's neighbors watched helplessly as her body went lifeless.
"We didn't see sparks. We didn't see anything. It was a silent shock," said a witness. "It was a silent death. God rest that woman's soul."
Another woman driving with her husband got out of their car to help Zamora. Area resident Jerry Glassman realized what was happening and tried to warn her but it was too late.
"I started screaming at her, 'It's a live wire. Stay back.' She had put both her hands on the woman, and within seconds, she collapsed on top of her," Glassman described. Glassman and seven others who tried to help were not aware that a light post had been knocked down in the accident, exposing live wires that were hidden from view by the SUV and the gushing water from a busted fire hydrant.
As more people approached the scene to help, more of them were shocked. Witnesses said they heard people screaming.
"There was some gentleman going, "Don't touch her! Don't touch her!' Then there was somebody else going, 'Somebody help her! Somebody pull her out!'" said witness Everett Hernandez. "I saw people. It looked like they were wrestling...but what they were really doing is they were pulling people from getting electrocuted because there was a live wire under the water."
Investigators said that eight people in total were injured, including a police officer. Five people were taken to a hospital and a sixth was treated at the scene and released. The driver of the SUV sustained minor injuries.
Beau Maxon tried to pull the women out. He survived but was hospitalized in intensive care.
"He has exit wounds on both of his feet and his left foot is shattered from the electricity," said Skyler Maxon, Beau's brother. "They're just making sure his kidneys are OK right now. They're worried he could have kidney failure.
"The first victim was laying down, and we didn't know she was being electrocuted. My brother then grabbed her and tried to pull her out, and that's when he got hurt," said Skyler.
Investigators said excessive speed was likely a factor of the crash. Alcohol was not believed to be involved."Far too often lives are unnecessarily put at risk by people driving too fast on our streets, by people thinking that they can handle going around corners faster than they can handle it. As a society we just have to say 'enough is enough,'" said L.A. City Councilman Paul Krekorian.
"This is one of those cases where the village came to help and the villagers suffered as a result of their good will. It's an unfortunate situation," said LAPD Capt. Peter Whittingham.
"She was loving, compassionate; she did everything she could for anyone," said Paola Aviles, Irma Zamora's niece. "Obviously she gave her life for someone."
Officials from the Department of Water and Power want to remind people who come across downed power lines to stay in their vehicles and not touch anyone who is in contact with the power source.