LOS ANGELES (AP) — Aman Samsonian was speeding, passing cars and driving in a left-turn lane in a rush to get to the gym before he executed a turn and crashed into an electrical pole and fire hydrant, creating an electrified pool of water that fatally shocked two good Samaritans, according to witnesses.
A judge who heard testimony in a preliminary hearing Wednesday ruled the 20-year-old man should stand trial for vehicular manslaughter, despite the argument from Samsonian's lawyer that the legal foundation of the charges was unprecedented.
"The question becomes, did he kill these two ladies?" argued attorney Andrew Flier. He said that was not the case.
Flier told Superior Court Judge Karen Nudell that the deaths were not the driver's fault and said he could find no case in legal history to compare with the Southern California man's situation. He said the accident's outcome was not foreseeable and said "intervening acts," the women entering the hydrant water electrified by the fallen power lines, caused the deaths.
Deputy District Attorney Ron Carey disagreed, arguing Samsonian was guilty of gross negligence and wanton disregard for others.
"Speeding down a crowded road in a lane you're not supposed to be in is inherently dangerous," he said. "The defendant should have foreseen the harm that could happen."
Daniel Woloszyn, whose wife perished when she tried to help Samsonian, said they were in the line of cars behind him, saw him cross a double yellow line, jump the curb and crash. He said his wife called 911 on her cellphone and then raced over to help the driver. She died when she stepped into electrified water. Another woman who tried to help her also was killed. Her husband said he too got an electric shock when he tried to pull her out of the water.