VALLEY VILLAGE -- Private donors have committed more than $10,000 to cover ambulance fees for the victims who were either injured or electrocuted as they tried to rescue a 19-year-old Glendale man who crashed into a fire hydrant and downed a power line, electrifying the pool of water.
Victims had been charged ambulance transport fees for their heroic efforts, but in announcing the donations Thursday, Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian said community members had stepped up to help cover the bills.
The idea of the victims being stuck with a bill for engaging in a selfless act drew concerns among some who wanted the fees waived. The fees, however, were required by administrative code, Krekorian said.
“My view was that even if we had the ability to change it in the law, we can’t put the Fire Department in the position — or the city in the position — of choosing which victims of tragedy more worthy than others for a waiver like this,” Krekorian said at the news conference at the Valley Village crash site. “There was no way that I or this community was going to allow these victims have to suffer any additional expense as a result of their heroism.”
Valley Village resident Stacey Schreiber, 39, and Burbank resident Irma Zamora, 40, were electrocuted Aug. 22 when they stepped into the spewing hydrant water that had been energized with 4,800-volts electricity from fallen power lines.
Zamora and Schreiber were electrocuted when they ran to help Arman Samsonian — who was inside his the wrecked SUV — and stepped into the water of water at Magnolia and Ben avenues in Valley Village.
Rescue crews used a 6-foot pole with hooks and a handle to rescue them, officials said.
In all, six people, including a Los Angeles police officer and the driver, were injured from electrical shock.
One of them, 23-year-old Beau Maxon, walked with the aid of a cane on Thursday, having suffered broken bones in his foot and burns on his feet and knee from “the electricity going in and out,” he said.
He had jumped in to help Zamora after seeing her on the ground, but said he was shocked by the electricity and fell to the ground.
“Every muscle in body went so tight,” he said. “It just felt like it was going to break me. I just remember feeling like my heart was going to explode and then I just went numb.”
He recalled screaming and pushing bystanders to stay back.
Maxon had never met Zamora and Schreiber.
Schreiber’s mother Barbara Kausch said her daughter’s acts of bravery and heroism “described her better than any words” she could say.
“Heroes are not born,” she said. “They are made.”
A friend of Schreiber who spoke during the news conference called for stricter enforcement on Magnolia, which she said is a virtual raceway for motorists due to the lack of speed bumps, stop signs and police activity.
Police continue to investigate the crash, which occurred when Samsonian, who was driving west on Magnolia, collided with the light pole and hydrant.
Detectives have been reviewing the incident “to determine what charges” and where the investigation will go, Los Angeles Police Capt. Ivan Minsal said.
But, he added, “the sense is that speed was a factor” in the crash. Samsonian, who has not been arrested, has also been cooperative with detectives, Minsal said.
-- Veronica Rocha, Times Community News
Lawyers Title Company established a memorial trust fund for Zamora’s family:
The Irma Zamora Memorial Trust
360 E. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA 91502
Account No. 42003483304
ABA No. 322271724 (for wire transfers)