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3 Killed in Fiery Crash ID'd as Burbank Family Members

March 06, 2004|David Pierson | Times Staff Writer

Police identified three members of a Burbank family who were killed Thursday when their car careened off a hairpin turn and tumbled several hundred feet down a canyon before erupting into flames.

Police said Vrezh Khudabakhshyan, 52; his wife, Klarisa Petrosian, 56; and their son, Armond Khudabakshyan, 20, all died in the 10:20 a.m. accident on Glen Oaks Boulevard, which winds past mansions in the hills west of the Rose Bowl.

The family got lost while taking a shortcut to Altadena, said Janet Pope, a spokeswoman for the Pasadena Police Department. After they reached a dead end at the top of Glen Oaks Boulevard, they turned around and swerved off an embankment that had no guardrails, Pope said.

"It looks like a very tragic accident," she said. "We still don't know what happened."

Investigators still were determining if another car was involved, though there were no skid marks at the scene, Pope said.

Other possibilities being investigated included mechanical failure, a sudden medical condition or whether the driver was speeding in the 15-mph zone. Police were unsure who was driving the 1989 Honda Accord at the time of the accident, Pope said.

The bodies were so badly burned, investigators initially believed the remains belonged to an adult and two children. They identified the victims after locating the car's vehicle identification number, which led them to an apartment building in the 600 block of Olive Avenue in Burbank.

The couple's daughter, Elfrida Khudabakhshyan, who was at the home Friday, said she was too distraught to talk about her family. "My family's not here," she said. "They're not coming back. I have no way of getting to them. I want to be there for them."

The building's superintendent, Sam Wallace, said the family had lived on the first floor of the three-story building for about two years. He said they were affable and appeared to be close-knit.

"Their son loved to swim" in the building's pool, Wallace said. "He would often go in the morning and he wouldn't get out for hours. He'd just go back and forth."

Elfrida Khudabakhshyan wondered if the fatalities could have been prevented by a guardrail. "Why hasn't the city done anything as far as having fencing there?" she said.

Ann Erdman, a spokeswoman for the city of Pasadena, said the city regularly inspects its roads to see how existing guardrails are holding up and if new ones need to be installed.

She said officials were studying the need for safety measures in the hillside neighborhoods after residents recently complained about the influx of trucks in the area near the accident.

"We don't know whether guardrails would be an outcome of that study," Erdman said.

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