Tag Archives: fatalities

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)

Crash Victims Yet to be Identified by Officials

The memorial at the crash site is growing daily, with flowers notes, cards, candles, stuff animals and plenty of tears and memories of lost friends. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The memorial at the crash site is growing daily, with flowers notes, cards, candles, stuff animals and plenty of tears and memories of lost friends. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

As of Monday afternoon, both Burbank Police and County Coroner Officials have yet to release and confirm the names of the five who were killed in a solo car crash early Saturday morning.

Pictures and stuffed animals and plenty of memories are being left behind at the crash site. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Pictures and stuffed animals and plenty of memories are being left behind at the crash site. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

A spokesman for the Coroner’s Office said on Monday that dental records have been received, although the bodies have yet to be examined. Investigators will attempt to match the information within the next couple of days.

Many media outlets have gone by friends of the victims in identifying the names, including pictures from Facebook accounts. myBurbank will wait until an official notification is made before making the information public out of respect for the families involved.

Flowers piled high, and memorial candles aglow balloons and posters with friends writing sit at the location where 5 Burbank kids lost their lives Saturday morning. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Flowers piled high and memorial candles have been placed along with balloons and posters with friend’s writings at the location where five Burbank residents lost their lives Saturday morning. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

A make-shift memorial continues to grow and has now consumed the crash site where five reported Burbank youths lost their lives.

While the accident is still under investigation, speed is believed to be one of the key factors in the collision that destroyed a protective guardrail before the Nissan struck a cement underpass a little after 4:10 am Saturday morning.

One girl was pulled from the wreckage and remains in County/USC Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson © 2013)

After tearing through a guardrail, the Nissan came to rest against the cement underpass at the 5 freeway and San Fernando (Photo by Ross A. Benson © 2013)

Burbank Firefighter Kyle Springer puts out flames coming from a Nissan after it struck a guardrail and burst into flames. (Photo copyrighted By Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Firefighter Kyle Springer puts out flames coming from a Nissan after it struck a guardrail and burst into flames.  There was no chance to rescue any of the five people trapped inside. (Photo copyrighted By Ross A. Benson)


Many Gather at Crash Site to Mourn Victims of Accident

While the victims names have yet to be released by police or coroner officials, word started to spread around Burbank about the five young people killed on Saturday morning when the car they were riding in failed to make the corner and crashed into a guardrail and then cement under crossing on San Fernando near the Scott Road off ramp.

As cars speed by the memorial grew in flowers and memories and people too. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

As cars speed by the memorial grew in flowers and memories and people too. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

There were six in the car total, with one 18 year-old girl being pulled from the wreckage before fire consumed the Nissan. The lone survivor was taken to County/USC Medical Center with a reported broken leg and a dislocated hip and is expected to survive. It has been widely circulated that the five were all Burbank residents.

While the cause and conditions of the accident have not been fully investigated yet, people at the scene cared more about consoling each other and asking why five young lives were taken so early.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Flowers, pictures and personal items were left as a memorial on the spot the vehicle came to rest. Many sat quietly and started straight ahead while other were extremely vocal in their pain. As time went on, more and more people gathered at the site.

Burbank police responded to the scene to help with crowd control, helping to keep people out of the dangerous stretch of road that has seen many accidents over the years and is scheduled to be closed when Caltrans builds the new off ramp for the Empire Center. Members of the news media were also on hand to capture the many tributes.

Note: Ross A. Benson Contributed to this story

Every major TV station came to the scene for coverage. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Every major TV station came to the scene for coverage. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Updated: Tragic Early Morning Accident Leaves Five Dead

UPDATED 4:00 pm 9/28

Burbank firefighters received a call around 4:10 am on Saturday morning of a traffic accident and vehicle fire on southbound San Fernando underpass near the Scott Rd. off-ramp to the 5 Freeway.

Burbank Firefighter Kyle Springer puts out flames coming from a Nissan after it struck a guardrail and burst into flames. (Photo copyrighted By Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Firefighter Kyle Springer puts out flames coming from a Nissan after it struck a guardrail and burst into flames. (Photo By Ross A. Benson © 2013)

Upon arriving on scene, Engine 11 reported that there was a vehicle on fire with the flames also spreading to the brush and trees next to the freeway.  While putting out the fire, it was determined that victims were still in the vehicle.  Five victims  that did not exit the car. were visible at the scene by firefighters.

Initial investigation indicates the Nissan was traveling south on San Fernando Boulevard at a high rate of speed, lost control, and eventually slammed into the concrete abutment.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson © 2013)

Firefighters work to but out brush that caught on fire next to the freeway after the solo car accident (Photo by Ross A. Benson © 2013)

It was reported by police at the scene that a local delivery driver, who did not see the actual accident, was driving by and came upon the car.  He was able to pull one female (an 18 year-old) from the vehicle before the flames became too intense.  Paramedics treated the woman and transported her to County USC Medical Center for her injuries.  The woman told officers at the scene that there were others still trapped in the car which was reported to be a Nissan.

Reports are the car was registered to a Burbank residence and possibly contained Burbank residents. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office is working to identify the victims and will release their identity upon confirmation and notification of next of kin.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson © 2013)

This area of San Fernando at the I-5 underpass has seen several major accidents throughout the years (Photo by Ross A. Benson © 2013)

The Burbank Police Department Chaplains were summoned to assist the families and friends of the victims through this tragedy. Psychological service professionals are also on hand to assist the members of the Police and Fire Departments, as needed.

Southbound San Fernando was completely closed to traffic while Burbank Police investigated the accident. Since there were no witnesses to the accident, Police would like anyone who might have seen anything to call Detective Sam Anderson at 818-238-3100.

With the five fatalities in the accident, this is one of the most serious vehicle accidents in Burbank history. Officers at the scene said that this is one of the worst accidents that they have ever seen.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson ©2013)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson ©2013)

The force of the impact completely bent this guardrail back (Ross A. Benson © 2013)

The force of the impact completely bent this guardrail back after it was seared from it’s 2 supporting posts. (Ross A. Benson © 2013)