GLENDALE — A 20-year-old Tujunga woman was arrested Tuesday after police say a nearly three-month investigation showed she was texting at the time she drove through a stop sign and killed an 80-year-old Glendale resident in a crosswalk.
The woman, Ani Voskanian, was taken into custody at her home Tuesday morning on one felony count of gross vehicular manslaughter, Glendale police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.
“This is not one of those things in which you intended to go kill someone…This is one those things that your actions carry serious consequences,” Lorenz said.
At the City Council meeting Tuesday night, Mayor Ara Najarian said distracted driving and traffic collisions involving pedestrians had reached “an epidemic point in Glendale.”
“Driving is more than getting from one place to another, it’s also about understanding that you control a 2-ton weapon,” he said.
Voskanian was headed west on California Avenue about 6:37 p.m. on Sept. 15 when she allegedly failed to yield at the four-way stop at Columbus Avenue and hit Misak Ranjbar as he was in a crosswalk, police said.
Ranjbar typically walked around the neighborhood to maintain a healthy lifestyle, his son, Roger Ranjbar, said at the time.
He could not be immediately reached for comment.
After being thrown into the air, Misak Ranjbar landed on the pavement, and Voskanian stopped shortly after the collision to remain at the scene, police said.
Misak Ranjbar was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he died of head trauma, coroner’s officials said.
Investigators have since determined that Voskanian made no attempt to slow down, Lorenz said, and that she had been texting on her cell phone.
Following the crash, the son, Roger Ranjbar, said he hoped “it was an accident, and nothing else like alcohol, or drugs, or like texting or talking on the phone.”
More than 2,300 traffic collisions have occurred in Glendale in the past year, according to the Police Department. Of those collisions, 660 resulted in injuries and six were fatal. Sixty-four collisions involved pedestrians.
In 2009, the statewide figure for pedestrian-involved traffic collisions in which cell-phone use played a factor and resulted in injuries was 21, said the California Highway Patrol Officer Charmaine Fajardo, a spokeswoman for the agency.
Of those collisions, none were fatal, but 22 pedestrians were hurt, she added.
Those figures fell sharply in 2010, which so far has recorded only three injury collisions statewide and in which three pedestrians were hurt, Fajardo said.
The collisions took into account cell-phone use by motorists and pedestrians.
The Police Department last month launched “Driven 2 Distraction?” a public education campaign aimed at warning motorists about the effects of distracted driving, including talking or texting on a cell phone, reading a book, eating and applying makeup.
The campaign — funded through a $254,795 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety — is focused on city engineering, public education and targeted enforcement operations.
Voskanian was released from the Glendale city jail after posting a $50,000 bond, police said.
She is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 20 in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Glendale.