Police: SUV crash survivor's story is a miracle

DOWNTOWN GLENDALE — An 83-year-old Glendale man remains hospitalized after driving his 2003 Land Rover off the second story of a multi-story parking garage last week.

Rafik Sarookhanian was pulling into a spot in a parking structure for the Park Towers condominium building at 345 Pioneer Drive, where he lives, when he accelerated instead of stepping on the brake, police said.

Sarookhanian struck the metal guard rails and a cement structure before his SUV landed on its roof on Pioneer Drive.

"I call him a miracle because he is very lucky, especially with his age," Glendale Police Det. Ashraf Mankarios said.

He suffered multiple injuries and remains at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he has been treated since the Oct. 8 crash, Mankarios said.

Sarookhanian sustained multiple broken bones in his neck, tendons separated from his vertebrae and a large cut on his head, he said

He was scheduled for surgery Thursday to treat his injuries, Mankarios said.

During the crash, he was wearing his seatbelt, which likely saved his life, Mankarios said.

Surveillance video footage of the accident showed people strolling on the sidewalk and a car parked below the parking structure just seconds before Sarookhanian's SUV plunged to the street, Mankarios said.

The building's management told police that they would have to reconstruct the parking structure's façade, Mankarios said. The cost of repairs was not provided to police, and calls to the management and Park Towers Homeowners Assn. were not returned.

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