Tag Archives: Accident

Man in Stolen Vehicle Killed After Striking Stone Pillar

Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Police are investigating an accident at the corner of Sunset Canyon and Olive that left a El Cajon man dead after striking the stone pillar at the entrance to Country Club Drive.

Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Police were dispatched along with a full rescue response from the fire department around 12:30 pm on Wednesday, April 1 for a report of a solo vehicle traffic accident with a person trapped in the vehicle.

Once they arrived, it was determined that the driver was deceased and was pronounced at the scene. There were no other people in the vehicle, a white Mercedes-Benz, that police have determined had struck the pillar head-on, resulting in major damage to the vehicle. The coroner was notified who responded to the scene to pick up the victim.

Photo courtesy Brandon Nichols

Police reported that several witnesses near the scene of the accident reported seeing the car driving erratically and speeding before the collision occurred. It will not be known if drugs or alcohol played a factor until the coroner releases his preliminary report.

At the time of the crash, the Mercedes was reported as a stolen vehicle. Burbank traffic investigators later learned the car was stolen earlier in the morning from a relative of the victim. No other vehicles were involved and the Public Works Department was called out to inspect the damage to the pillar.

Anyone with information about this collision is asked to call the Burbank Police Department Traffic Bureau, at (818) 238-3100.

Photo courtesy Brandon Nichols

Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Local Artists Pay Tribute to Kobe with Burbank Murals

Following the tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, Gigi Brant, and seven others who passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26, tributes have emerged across the world to honor the basketball legend. The memorials have varied in form, from Nike’s display of his jerseys at a fashion show in New York, to Lebron James’ speech saluting his former teammate.

As a way to pay their respects to Bryant, local artists have been using their creativity to produce portraits in Burbank that represent the essence of who Bryant was and what he meant to not only to the Los Angeles community, but the entire world.

The creative team of Arthur Akopyan and Haibert Sarkisian collaborated together to make a mural at the corner of Verdugo Ave. and Lake St. in Burbank. Their mural showcases the faces Kobe and Gigi Bryant, as well as the late rapper Nipsey Hussle. The painting also displays a colorful background, including a purple and gold mix to reference Bryant’s history with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The duo, who goes by the names of dehmq and eyesbehindart in their artistic enterprises, had already been thinking of creating an image of Hussle, and Bryant’s death gave an additional inspiration to start the project.

Two young children admire artist Isaac Pelayo’s mural of the late Kobe Bryant. (photo by Ross A. Benson)

“When this whole Kobe thing happened, and when we found out that Gigi died as well,  the first thing that came to mind was, ‘We need an outlet to express this pain,’” said Akopyan. 

The strength of character behind Bryant’s success served as a pivotal reason why Akopyan and Sarkisian felt compelled to design a piece of art in his honor. 

Arthur Akopyan and Haibert Sarkisian’s mural of Nipsey Hussle, Gigi Bryant, and Kobe Bryant sits at the corner of Verdugo Ave. and Lake St. in Burbank. (photo by Ross A. Benson)

“As an LA native, [I] look at him as a hero,” Akopyan detailed. “I specifically remember seeing that game where Kobe tore his achilles and got back up and went and shot another free throw and he finished that game. That Mamba mentality that he preaches was literally imprinted into my head after I saw that.”

They worked for a total of five days on the mural, and both artists say they have witnessed the community uniting over their portrait of the Bryants and Hussle.

“It allows you to just kind of let go of who you are and share this one common moment,” Sarkisian said.

Multitalented artist Isaac Pelayo also honored Bryant outside of Nelson’s Liquor in Burbank with a mural depicting Bryant from behind, wearing his number 24 jersey with a golden halo surrounding the late athlete. The background is a simple, glowing white with “LA” and “20” written as an homage to the city Bryant gave 20 years of his epic career to. 

Pelayo has become an acclaimed painter over the course of three-and-a-half years, but had never attempted a mural project prior to his depiction of Kobe. Although celebrity portraits are rare for him, Pelayo, a loyal fan of Bryant, felt compelled to honor the LA legend after his saddening and sudden death.

“This one hit differently,” Pelayo said. “This one hit my childhood. When Kobe passed, it was one of those things you just don’t believe.” 

Showing Bryant from behind allowed Pelayo to convey Bryant’s strength as a pillar of the city of Los Angeles.

“It represents him a lot. He was a leader. He was never looking back at any mistakes, and he just kept moving forward,” said Pelayo. 

For Pelayo, the symbolism behind the mural, which he dubbed “Saint Kobe,” was representative of Bryant’s contributions that went far beyond his time as a basketball player.

“I wanted to paint Kobe Bryant the person, not the basketball legend,” said Pelayo. “I didn’t want to highlight just one thing, I wanted to highlight him as a person moving forward, and he’s going to be illuminating the city for the rest of time. As long as the city stands, and the rest of the world, really. His light will never fade. That’s why the wall is as bright as it is, it illuminates.”

In creating the artwork, Pelayo strived to give onlookers a feeling of hope for the future, even in the face of tragedy or setbacks. 

“I hope that it gives people that sensibility of just not being afraid to move forward when you don’t know what’s going to happen. And just keep shining,” Pelayo said. 

You can follow the artists through their Instagram accounts: @isaacpelayo, @dehmq, @eyesbehindart, @splatterhaus

Teetering Vehicle Off of Parking Structure Gives Everyone a Scare

A late-night incident on Thursday, August 1 could have wound up a whole lot worse.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Burbank fire was dispatched on a call at V.S.P. Parking at 2612 Hollywood Way, across from Hollywood Burbank Airport, for a vehicle that was halfway over the side of the parking structure with wheels spinning. A rescue response, including an Urban Search and Rescue, were dispatched.

According to Battalion Chief and Department Spokesman John Owings, arriving units “found one vehicle partially over the side on the 2nd story of the parking structure with all occupants out and no injuries.”

It is not known how the driver wound up in that position. Firefighters remained on scene as the vehicle was pulled back.

“Burbank Fire stabilized the vehicle and provided medical care to the driver. BPD (Burbank Police) called a tow truck who was able to pull the car safely from the edge of the structure,” according to Owing.

A car dangles from the parking structure at V.S.P. Parking on Hollywood Way. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)


Bicyclist Hit By Driver Opening Car Door

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

On Sunday, April 29, at 4:40 p.m., an adult male bicyclist traveling north on Lincoln Street near Kenmere Avenue was hit when a driver of a parked vehicle opened their door into the bike lane.

The bicyclist was transported to L.A. County USC Medical Center with serious injuries. His current state is unknown.

Burbank Police Department marked the location to assist in the investigation of the collision.

May is National Bike Month and Walk Bike Burbank is recommending people use ‘The Dutch Reach.’ A link to a Youtube Video demonstrating the technique can be found here.

BPD Receives $100,000 Grant From Office of Traffic Safety

By Timothy Mably

The Burbank Police Department has received a $100,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to fund a year-long program intended to prevent road deaths and injuries by enforcing awareness and educating the public.

The grant will contribute to presentations on traffic safety, DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols, bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement, motorcycle safety enforcement, distracted driving enforcement, and seatbelt and child safety seat enforcement.

“This grant supports our mission to continue educating the public through various enforcement campaigns throughout the year in order to reduce the number of injuries and deaths attributed to traffic collisions and unsafe driving habits,” said Chief of Police, Scott LaChasse.

Following a decade long low in 2010, the amount of people killed in car accidents has grown to 17% across the country. In 2015, there was a record total of 3,429 fatalities from traffic related incidents. Almost a quarter of fatalities involved pedestrians and bicyclists.

According to OTS Director Rhonda Craft, unsafe behavior causes about 94% of accidents, whether it is the result of texting or the influence of drugs.

“While alcohol remains the worst offender for DUI crashes, the Burbank Police Department supports the new effort from OTS which aims to drive awareness that ‘DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze,’” said Sgt. Derek Green in a press release. “Prescription medications and marijuana can also be impairing by themselves, or in combination with alcohol, and can result in a DUI arrest.”

This grant comes after an elderly man was struck and killed while crossing the intersection of Glenoaks Boulevard and Lincoln Street at the beginning of the month. A Disney employee was also killed by an inattentive driver while crossing Alameda Avenue and Lincoln in September.

Funding for the program comes from OTS through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Candlelight Memorial Held for Former Burroughs Student

For the third time in recent years, a young Burroughs graduate has been killed in car accident.

20 year-old Richard Pananian, of Burbank was killed Friday morning when the car he was driving lost control and rear-ended a pickup truck on the I-5 Freeway between the Colorado offramp and the 134 interchange.

Pananian was reportedly not wearing his seat belt although his car reportedly had a five-point racing seat belt harness and was ejected from the vehicle when it began to roll and he was thrown up to the Colorado freeway sign where he came to rest.

Los Angeles City Fire crews responding to the scene just after 7 am and found Pananian deceased on the overhead sign.

Friday night at Burroughs High School people brought candles in Pananian’s memory to a makeshift memorial in front of the school.

This fatality follows the 2013 accident that killed five Burbank residents and the 2014 accident that killed three former Burroughs students.

Burbank Police are planning to hold an ‘Every 15 Minutes’ presentation at Burroughs early in 2016 before graduation to help educate students about driving dangers.

Burbank Motor Officer Injured in Hit and Run Accident

A Burbank police motor officer, who was on his way home from his shift, was struck by a motorist on the 5 Freeway northbound near the 170 interchange Wednesday evening.

The officer name has not been released. Following the collision, the officer was able to use his expertise he has received in motorcycle training and kept the bike upright. Because of that training, the officer only received minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital to be checked out for his injuries.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson

Other officers who were riding with the Burbank motorcycle officer witnessed the collision. One of the officers stayed with his fellow injured officer while another officer went after the driver, who proceeded to the 118 Freeway about five miles away before finally stopping. The driver’s mirror on the suspect’s car was totally broken off the door from striking the officer.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The hit and run driver was arrested and booked by CHP for felony hit and run causing bodily injury.  She was identified as Terri Nickel, 46.  CHP officers also responded to both scenes for the arrest and the investigation.

Late Night Accident Sends Vehicle Into Councilman’s Restaurant

Burbank Police Officers responded at the request of LAPD to 7730 Hollywood Way to assist in locating the occupants of a vehicle that fled after being involved in a traffic accident around 12:30 am Tuesday.  The accident occurred after the possibly stolen vehicle came off the I-5 S/B ramp and struck a pickup truck.  The BMW 328-I then struck the side of Gary Bric’s The Ramp.

Burbank City Councilman Gary Bric, who owns the restaurant, was on the scene and working with emergency crews to survey the damage.  It was unknown when he would be able to reopen again.

Firemen examine a gas and water line that were sheared off when a vehicle hit them after a collision on Hollywood Way (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Firemen examine a gas and water line that were sheared off when a vehicle hit them after a collision on Hollywood Way (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

The impact of the vehicle into the structure also ruptured a gas and water line with Los Angeles City Fire responding to the scene and evacuating the area until the Gas Company could arrive on scene to shut down the line.

The structure received major damage but there were no customers in that part of the building at the time although four customers and a bartender were in the building at the time. There were no injuries reported from inside the restaurant.

Police searched for the driver of the BMW after the vehicle hit the side of The Ramp (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Police searched for the driver of the BMW after the vehicle hit the side of The Ramp (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Burbank City Councilman Gary Bric surveys the damage to his restaurant following a crash of a stolen BMW. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank City Councilman Gary Bric surveys the damage to his restaurant following a crash of a stolen BMW. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The damage inside The Ramp after a stolen car crashed through the wall late Monday evening.( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The damage inside The Ramp after a stolen car crashed through the wall late Monday evening.( Photo by Ross A. Benson)


Hopefully Tragedy Will Serve as a Life Lesson for a Generation

Thoughts from the Bullpen

By Craig Sherwood
Executive Editor

There are many nights that when monitoring the police and fire radios, I hear all sorts of life changing moments going on that affect individuals around the city. Saturday morning at 4:10 a.m., l was listening and heard the tragic news reported by Engine 11 that they had a ‘S-5’ at a crash scene. A S-5 stands for a deceased person; the man’s voice on the scanner then said that there was still too much smoke and the firefighters could not see inside well.

Minutes later he said that there were now five S-5’s.

While I have heard or been on the scene of one or two deaths in the past through violence or accident, the gravity of five was overwhelming. Of course even one death is just as important as multiple casualties, but our society tends to focus more on mass fatalities.

At that point I began to wonder if these were Burbank people. Because of the proximity to the freeway, there were many possibilities, but since the car had apparently exited the off ramp at Scott Road, the immediate thought were these might be locals.

As police worked the scene, a report of the car being registered to a Burbank address then hit home and I knew at that time that this would be not only a tragedy that would touch individual lives, but the heart of a city.

Emotions then completely enveloped me. I have also been a high school baseball coach for 30 years and have spent the past several back here in Burbank. My immediate thought was of my current and former players. They are not just kids who play baseball for you or the school, but a family that you spend hours upon hours with.

At the same time I suddenly thought of all the parents who were about to be woken and notified that their son or daughter had just lost their life.  I am just a high school coach, I could not even imagine what it must be to be a parent.

For the next couple of weeks the facts and the anger will come out. First will be blame, then will be the tests to see if alcohol was a factor. Police will determine if speed and the amount of people in the vehicle was a safety factor.  These are all questions that need to be answered but in the long scheme are really not important.

This will become a teaching moment and life experience.

These were teenagers. In most cases, they have just been given some new found freedom of being 18 and considered by our society as adults, which to them meant they could do whatever they want, whenever they wanted. Don’t judge. Everyone reading this who is now adult can remember back to that time also and understand.

And anyone also who can remember back to their teenage or young adult years can probably remember that there was some circumstance that they got themselves into and somehow escaped injury and now look back and ask, “What was I thinking then?” That is part of what youth is. No one can tell you anything because you know what is best and you can handle anything.

Let’s face it, every teenager out there is invincible. Nothing can happen to him or her. They never believe that bad things can happen to them and they can take care of themselves.  It’s not about right or wrong or how their parents raised them, it is all about the fact that they are now ‘adults’ and they know better.

Parents do the best they can to raise their kids also. They try to teach them to be good people, to make the right decisions, to make something of their lives. They only want the best for their son or daughter. Children have no idea how much their parents worry about them until the circle of life makes the children parents someday with their own kids.

I never have believed in telling a player something and then use the words ‘because I told you so.’ I have always felt that they usually just rebel and think they still know better, that I am just using my authority to tell them what to do.  Instead, i always tell them the reason why I want something done a particular way and the reasons behind it.

This is all about life lessons. When you experience something, it makes you wiser and most young people just don’t have the experiences yet to make good decisions. You can tell them things until you are blue in the face, but until they experience it, they have don’t have a baseline to remember.

Hopefully, there are some younger people reading this that don’t usually spend their time on a news site or even watch news on television.

To you, I say, think about what you are feeling right now. Think about the hurt, the loss in your heart, the people around you who are affected.  Think about the families that will have an open seat at Thanksgiving dinner for the rest of time. One brief decision could mean the difference of crawling into your bed at night or creating a void that will never be filled.

And don’t just think of friends and family.  This entire community feels the hurt right now.  The brave firefighters and police officers who responded to the scene and witnessed the devastation will have to live with that the rest of their lives.  Yes, they are trained professionals, but they are also mothers and fathers who have very real feelings.  These are all professionals who live to help people.  You may think that all they do are hassle kids when in truth, they really do care about ALL Burbank people young and old, rich and poor. They are hurting right now too.

If you are older and grew up in Burbank, you might remember a few accidents that have taken some of our youth before their time.

There was the tragic accident back in the 70’s on Parish by Burroughs that took the life of a student. In the late 80’s there was the fatal accident on Olive and Screenland when, after a late night party near Travel Town, a vehicle lost control and rolled into a gas station.

These events helped change their generations.  No doubt that there were many who thought twice before they did something that they felt might be wrong.

Luckily, there have not been many of these accidents in recent years. There had been programs over the years like those from the CHP that showed drunk driving accidents by teens and the Every 15 Minutes program that had been put on at high schools but has now been phased out locally due to budget cuts.

These programs would not have stopped this accident. You do wonder though if they were still in place if even one of the young people who lost their life may have made a different decision and not made that trip, though. This is not about blaming anyone, this is just about reminding people that you never know what might be accomplished when the message is constantly repeated.

Even our photographer, Ross A. Benson (who is also a father), has made up a PSA that we run on our website every year reminding people not to drink and drive. The tragic thing is the picture that he uses in the PSA is of another serious accident that took place in that exact same underpass as this recent crash.

Hopefully, as much hurt this accident has brought to so many people and families, our newest generation of teenagers and young adults will use this as a life experience. All they have to do is just keep this in the back of their minds. They are still going to do the things that teenagers do, you just hope that one of the things they don’t do is mingle alcohol and cars.

If this tragic accident can serve to remind just one young person to make the right decision, even when it is not a popular decision with his or her peers, then they can pay tribute to these families who will forever have a hole in their lives.

Everyone of us who live in Burbank have felt this loss of these incredibly talented young people and our condolences go out to their family and friends.

Today, their friends and family hurt, our community hurts, I hurt.

Life will go on, let’s just hope that our memory lingers.


MyBurbank runs this PSA every year. The accident is sadly in the same underpass as the accident this past weekend. (Ross A. Benson’s PSA)

Burbank’s Mayor Responds to Crash Tragedy

The following is an official statement issued by Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy on behalf of the Burbank City Council regarding Saturday’s early morning car crash that claimed several lives on San Fernando Boulevard:

“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the young people who lost their lives so tragically Saturday morning. Our thoughts are also with the young woman who survived and her family and friends, as this is an especially painful time for them.

A tragedy of this magnitude affects the entire community, particularly one as close knit as Burbank. Due to the young age of the victims, it is important that we pay close attention to their peers as they navigate the grieving process. The Burbank Police Department is partnering with the Burbank Unified School District, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and Family Service Agency of Burbank to ensure that the necessary resources are available for those in need.

The entire Burbank community feels the grief over this accident and we stand ready to assist. Burbank is a resilient community whose strength will help all of us to weather this trying time.”

The City Council will observe a moment of silence during Tuesday night’s Town Hall meeting to honor the victims of the crash.