The family of a man whose body landed on a freeway sign during a car crash says they performed a lamb sacrifice for him days earlier for protection from harm.
Richard Pananian, 20, of Burbank had been battling serious health issues but overcame them, said his cousin, Armen Kardashian. He would not say what the health issues were.
This time, his family wasn't taking any chances and was determined to protect him, so they performed a matagh, or offering, on Oct. 25. Matagh is a tradition of the Armenian Church and often used to show appreciation to God for saving a life, asking for good health or for peace for deceased loved ones.
Interested in the stories shaping California? Sign up for the free Essential California newsletter >>
Pananian's family hoped the offering of the lamb would provide some protection, his cousin said.
Five days later, on Friday, Pananian was headed to his new job at Glendale Collision Center, his cousin said.
He was driving on southbound on the 5 Freeway just north of California 134 when his Ford Fiesta rear-ended a pickup truck and overturned, said Officer Edgar Figueroa, a California Highway Patrol spokesman. The CHP said Pananian was not wearing a seat belt.
He was ejected and landed on the Colorado Street freeway sign.
Shortly before the crash, the CHP received a call at 7 a.m. about the driver of a Ford Fiesta traveling recklessly.
Rescue crews used a ladder to the remove his body from the freeway sign.
Kardashian said he is overwhelmed with thoughts of his cousin's life and the bizarre turn it took.
"Say we have to go, but not in that way," Kardashian said. "It just became a spectacle."
Pananian had always worn a seatbelt before Friday's crash, his cousin said.
Pananian, who was a car aficionado, had even installed a racing safety harness for his driver's seat, his cousin said.
Now his family is trying to raise $50,000 for "unexpected financial burdens."
GoFundMe pages have been set up by Pananian's family and their co-workers described the 20-year-old as "one of the most friendly, giving, compassionate people you would ever meet."
So far, more than $15,000 has been raised in the effort to assist his family members, who are "facing many unexpected financial burdens," according to the family's page.
Pananian is survived by his mother, father and older brother.
"He had a bright future," he said.