A Glendale man pleaded no contest today to vehicular manslaughter in connection with an August 2012 crash in Valley Village that led to the electrocution of two good Samaritans who rushed to the scene and stepped in water electrified by a toppled light pole.
Arman Samsonian, now 21, is facing 70 days of community labor and three years probation on the felony charge, with sentencing set June 6 in Van Nuys, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Samsonian is also expected to be order to pay fines, along with restitution to the victims' families.
A second count of vehicular manslaughter against Samsonian is expected to be dismissed when he is sentenced, according to the District Attorney's Office.
He was charged in October 2012 in connection with an Aug. 22, 2012, collision in which the SUV he was driving sheared a fire hydrant and toppled a light pole near the corner of Magnolia Boulevard and Ben Avenue, creating a pool of electrified water.
Stacey Lee Schreiber, 39, of Valley Village, and Irma Zamora, 40, of Burbank, were electrocuted when they stepped in the water while running to the scene of the crash.
Zamora was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by her husband behind the SUV that crashed, and Schreiber rushed out of her home to help Samsonian. Six other people suffered electrical burns, and five were hospitalized for a time. One of the injured was a patrol officer from the LAPD's North Hollywood station who suffered a shock through one of his boots, police said.
Samsonian's friend, Ashot Avanisian, testified at a hearing last year that he and Samsonian were each shocked while trying to help the women.
A police detective who interviewed Samsonian while he was in the hospital after the crash testified that he said he had gotten impatient because traffic was piling up and that he began driving in the center lane. He told police he had returned to the main lane and was going about 15 to 20 mph when he tried to turn.
At a preliminary hearing last August in which Samsonian was ordered to stand trial, defense attorney Andrew Flier argued, "Clearly, based on this evidence, this is a tragic accident ... It's so unforeseeable that people are going to die from being electrocuted."
He argued that his client could not have reasonably foreseen the possibility of an electrified pool of water being created in a crash, while acknowledging that his client "might have been speeding."
Deputy District Attorney Ron Carey countered at that hearing that Samsonian had been "speeding down a crowded road" and that it was reasonably foreseeable that someone might be injured if he was to crash on a street lined with power lines and light poles.
--City News Service