NORTHWEST GLENDALE — When a woman drove her car through the front of Movses Golden Pastry five years ago, owner Armen Nazarian thought he could protect his store by installing steel barriers in front of the property. He was wrong.
Early Tuesday, police said, a Burbank woman in the parking lot slammed on the gas pedal of her white Toyota 4Runner and barreled through the Glenoaks Boulevard corner bakery. She evaded a steel barrier and smashed through a storefront window, refrigerators, tables and chairs. No one was hurt, police said.
The SUV skidded to a halt on the property after crashing through a second window and nearly rumbling off an elevated outdoor seating area facing Glenoaks Boulevard.
“I didn’t really expect that this was going to happen again,” said Nazarian, who snapped digital photos of the store as firefighters and police helped clear warped steel wreckage and shattered glass from around the vehicle.
Assortments of pastries and Armenian breads sat amid shards of glass in broken refrigerated displays that cost about $10,000 each. Displays had fallen from shelves along the back wall of the shop, Nazarian said.
The 2004 crash had cost about $30,000 to repair, but Tuesday’s damage, combined with lost profits from days that Nazarian will have to close for repairs and health inspector visits will likely triple that total, he said.
He expected insurance to pick up the tab.
Glendale and Burbank firefighters used a rotary saw to clear a railing, allowing them to move the 4Runner off the elevated seating area and onto a flatbed tow truck. Employees at the 1755 W. Glenoaks Blvd. store said they feared for their lives upon hearing the SUV plow through the front of the shop.
“I just heard a boom, the store started shaking, and I just saw the car is coming and I ran,” said Lusine Petrosyan, a cashier who was working behind the store counter and looking the other direction when the crash occurred.
She darted to the store’s back room with other workers.
The accident was not only avoidable, but could have been deadly, Glendale police Officer Larry Ballesteros said.
“If somebody would’ve been standing at the counter ordering a tray of fruit tarts or something, he would’ve been killed,” Ballesteros said.
No charges have been filed against the driver, Heranosh Baghomian, because the accident occurred on private property, Ballesteros said.
Nazarian, who owns the strip mall, was concerned not only that a similar incident had happened before, but that another property he owns, at the intersection of Chevy Chase Drive and Verdugo Road, has also been struck twice by out-of-control drivers, he said.
“I’m very confused,” he said.
Similar accidents have happened in the last two years, with drivers ramming through a Starbucks on Foothill Boulevard and a Supercuts on Glendale Avenue, injuring bystanders in the process, Ballesteros said.
“It’s too common,” he said.
Nazarian questioned whether enough Glendale drivers were safe enough to be on the roads, echoing concerns frequently raised by residents fed up with the city’s notoriously accident-ridden streets.
The Department of Motor Vehicles is consistently working to improve driver’s license testing standards, said spokeswoman Jan Mendoza, who insisted that most of California’s 26 million motorists are safe.
“We’ve got millions of drivers out there,” she said. “It’s a numbers game for sure.”