A driver accused of fatally striking two people with his car during an illegal street race in Chatsworth remains in custody on $2-million bail, with a second driver still wanted for questioning.
Henry Michael Gevorgyan, 21, was booked on suspicion of murder Sunday after police plastered his name and photo across social media and named him as the driver in Thursday morning’s pre-dawn crash in an industrial park in Chatsworth.
Gevorgyan was allegedly driving a Ford Mustang that lost control in a race with a second vehicle on Plummer Street, veered right and plowed into a group of spectators before slamming into the curb and landing on the sidewalk.
Two men were killed: Wilson Wong, 50, of Torrance, and Eric Siguenza, 26, of Los Angeles. A third person was injured.
The driver of a second racing vehicle also fled. Police did not immediately have information on whether that motorist had been identified.
The crash renewed calls for opening legal speedways, where racers could compete in a safe and controlled environment off city streets. Many of the once-popular drag strips have vanished.
"The problem we're having these days is that with land development and zoning, we're losing our drag strips," said Jeffrey "Moldy Marvin" Hillinger, who has led an effort to reopen the Los Angeles County Raceway in Palmdale. The raceway was a popular drag strip frequented by racers from the San Fernando and Antelope valleys before it shut down in 2007.
"The whole idea is to get kids off the street and into an environment where it was safe and you could have crews, safety inspections and an ambulance and fire crew on hand in case someone does crash," he said.
Hillinger, the executive vice president of the Brotherhood of Street Racers' Antelope Valley Hot Rod Division, said longtime racers were angered by the street races and the dangerous stunts glamorized online and in movies such as "The Fast and the Furious."
Others, though, said the allure of street racing was driven in part by the danger and the freedom to race down city boulevards in cars that weren't necessarily street legal.
Still, Doug Stokes, the spokesman for the Irwindale Speedway, said an advantage of a controlled drag strip was that spectators didn't have to drive to remote locations in the middle of the night and be prepared to scatter at a moment's notice when police showed up.
"It's better than watching for a few minutes and running when the cops come at 3 in the morning," he said.
For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.