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L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa hails Valley good Samaritans as 'heroes'

August 23, 2012 |  8:29 pm

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa urged people helping at accident scenes to be careful. "We don't want anyone hurt in the process," he said.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday hailed the people who responded to a car accident in Valley Village a day earlier as a heroes, including two women who died of electrocution after stepping into water that covered live electrical cables.

“They did what good Samaritans have done in this community many times,” he said.

He also urged the public to take precautions when coming upon an accident scene. “We don’t want anyone hurt in the process,” he said.

PHOTOS: Good Samaritans electrocuted after crash

Villaraigosa spoke at a news conference at the intersection of Magnolia Boulevard and Ben Avenue, the site of the accident Wednesday evening.

Joined by Los Angeles Fire Chief Brian Cummings, second district City Councilman Paul Krekorian and other city officials, Villaraigosa said of those who tried to help: “They are heroes.”

Authorities say the driver of an SUV was speeding on Magnolia and hit a fire hydrant and street-light pole, shearing off both. The water began pouring into the street, covering up the live electrical cables protruding from the crumpled the light pole, fire officials said.

The resulting electrified pool shocked and burned several people who ran to help. Irma Zamora, a Burbank resident, and her husband were driving by and stopped. Zamora died after she ran to help another woman who had been electrocuted in the water. The second woman’s name was not released as next of kin have not been notified.

Bystanders had to hold back Zamora’s husband from rushing into the water as well.

Six others were burned attempting to help the driver, who was injured in the crash. He has not been identified.

An investigation into the accident is underway, and police officials said it will be forwarded to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, which will decide whether to file criminal charges.

Krekorian called Wednesday “a day of tragedy and a day of heroism.”

He called on the public to slow down, saying that cars at high speed are a major cause of accidents and death in the San Fernando Valley.

Cummings echoed Villaraigosa, saying, “Look at your surroundings before you rush in to” help at an accident scene. He urged people to call 911 first.


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-- Sam Quinones in Valley Village


Photo: Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, left, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Fire Chief Brian Cummings at the site of the Valley Village accident. Credit: Sam Quinones / Los Angeles Times