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Businesses help families of Burbank crash victims

October 09, 2013|By Alene Tchekmedyian
  • Britini Parish scrubs the tire of a car during a car wash fundraiser last Saturday at Fosters Freeze on Glenoaks Boulevard. Donations were collected for the families of five car crash victims.
Britini Parish scrubs the tire of a car during a car wash fundraiser last… (Ross A. Benson / Burbank…)

Local businesses have raised more than $12,000 for the victims of a car crash that claimed the lives of five people and left one injured a little more than a week ago.

A car wash held at Fosters Freeze on Saturday raised $6,265 for the six victims' families, according to Carol Coelho, who helped organize the event, the Burbank Leader reported.

More than 300 drivers showed up at the Burbank business to get their cars washed, while others came by simply to donate. Strangers even showed up with buckets to help wash cars, Coelho said.

Allie Hariri, whose daughter, 19-year-old Malak Hariri, died in the crash, brought his daughter's burgundy Nissan Altima to the fundraiser.

“I told them, ‘this is Malak's car' and all [the] kids came just to have a hand to wash Malak's car,” Allie Hariri said Monday. “It makes me and my wife feel very good — it's part of the comfort we're trying to get.”

Authorities identified the other victims as Burbank residents Stephen Stoll, 23, Sebastian Forero, 20, and Sugey Cuevas, 19, and Sameer Joudeh, 18, of Valley Village. Joudeh also goes by the last name Nevarez, according to his peers.

Coelho said it was special to have Hariri's family, along with a member of Stoll's family, at the car wash.

Savannah Underwood, 18, the sole survivor of the crash, suffered broken bones in her right leg and a crushed pelvis after managing to crawl out of the car's back window.

Police believe the car, driven by Stoll, was traveling south on San Fernando Boulevard at high speed and lost control near the Scott Road off-ramp of the 5 Freeway just after 4 a.m. on Sept. 28. The car slammed into a concrete pillar and caught fire.

At another fundraiser, a root beer float drive was held at the three Ralph's stores in Burbank and raised $3,930 for the six families, said Don Jansen, a store director.

“I'm just extremely proud of Burbank for really coming out and showing what they're about,” Jansen said.

Also, local sports bar the Hollywood Way will donate $2,000 — a portion of the restaurant's Saturday night sales — to the crash victims' families, according to business owner Matt Ferrato.

“We're just happy to do whatever we can to help out the families,” Ferrato said Monday.

Angel Greco, a tattoo artist at the Electric Pen, raised roughly $400 for Hariri's family. Throughout the day, he completed a handful of memorial tattoos for customers. Some requested initials of the victims and others asked for the date of the crash, he said.

Separately, the families of the crash victims have raised more than $32,000 for memorial services and hospital bills on the crowd-funding website GoFundMe.

Underwood's mother, Valerie Lucas, said that between co-payments and deductibles, her daughter's hospital bills will be high.

“This is something that's obviously never happened to us — we have no idea what we're going to need as far as making sure that Savannah is going to recover fully, not just physically, but mentally as well,” Lucas said Monday. “It's going to be a struggle, it really is. We are just so grateful for the amount we've received so far on her page.”


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Twitter: @atchek

Alene Tchekmedyian writes for Times Community News

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