Witness: Tragic crash aftermath, electrocutions 'vivid in my mind'
About 8:25 p.m. on a summer evening, the Valley Village neighborhood was startled by the sound of a fierce collision.
Jacqueline Montgomery, manager of a nearby apartment complex, was walking a friend to his car when she saw a car speeding west on Magnolia and slide into a turn at Ben Avenue.
"He was flying," she said.
Police investigating the accident are looking at excessive speed as a possible factor in the collision, said Det. Bill Bustos of the LAPD's Valley Traffic Division.
Alcohol was not an issue in the case, Bustos said.
A 19-year-old man in an SUV lost control and struck a power pole and a water hydrant simultaneously, opening the hydrant and severing cables in the power pole.
Neighbors poured from nearby apartments, few initially realizing the electrified soup that was being created at the intersection.
A woman named Jeanette said her daughter was in the front yard waiting for her father to return home. Suddenly, Jeanette said, she heard the sound of the car against the power pole and hydrant.
"We thought he'd hit a pedestrian," said Jeanette, who declined to give her last name.
As the street filled with water, from somewhere, Jeanette said, Irma Zamora appeared, trying to help the driver. She was immediately electrocuted, Jeanette said.
"We saw her standing there and shaking" from the electrical current, Jeanette said. "There were young children out here. I can still see it vivid in my mind."
Some bodybuilders from an apartment across the street rushed to the accident and held back Zamora's husband, Jeanette said.
"He was yelling, 'My wife! my wife!' All the neighbors wanted to help," she said. "Thank God there were these big strong men holding him back."
From an apartment complex ran 23-year-old identical twins Skyler and Beau Maxon, who'd moved to Los Angeles two years ago from Salt Lake City to pursue acting careers.
By now, water from the hydrant had filled the intersection at Magnolia and Ben avenues.
Beau Maxon touched the water and was immediately shocked, his brother said. He is in intensive care at a local hospital but expected to live.
"Once we recognized electricity was involved, it kind of got scary," said Skyler Maxon. "We couldn't do anything to help."
Skyler Maxon said another woman came running barefoot from an apartment complex on Magnolia. She touched Zamora and was immediately electrocuted.
"We were yelling at her to stay back but I don't think she understood," Maxon said.
Firefighters somehow pulled Irma Zamora from the water and began attempts to resuscitate her, said Montgomery. "They tried for 10 minutes to pump her," she said.
Zamora and the woman who touched her were pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. The driver survived.
-- Sam Quinones and Rebecca Trounson
Photo: A candle and flowers at the accident scene where two women were electrocuted and six others were injured Wednesday night after an SUV smashed into a fire hydrant and downed a light pole in Valley Village. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times