Victim of fatal Studio City crash identified
The Los Angeles County coroner's office has identified one of three people killed when a BMW crashed into a Studio City pizzeria early Sunday and severed a gas line, igniting a fire that gutted the car.
Jason Shmelnik of Los Angeles and the two other victims, whom the coroner's office have not yet identified, were declared dead at the scene. Authorities said the driver of the BMW had lost control of the car and struck at least one tree before barreling into Reno's Pizzeria about 3:30 a.m.
"It got really hot here. The TV is melted over there. That's how hot it got, because of the blast," Yarvand Tsaturyan, whose father owns the pizzeria, told KCBS (Channel 2).
A friend of Shmelnik told KTLA that the trio had been at a birthday party at a nearby Russian restaurant, where he said the driver had been drinking.
"I saw that he was too drunk to drive, and something inside me said … 'He's an adult. He'll get there,' " said Alexander Polansky, who added that he now felt "a lot of guilt."
Identification cards recovered from the scene indicate that two of the people in the car were male, said Sgt. Kurt Smith of the LAPD's Valley Traffic Division.
"When the car immolates like that, identification and stuff like that are iffy," he said.
--Ashley Powers and Frank Shyong
Photo: BMW on fire after crash. Credit: KTLA