Video: Police release surveillance footage of hit-and-run scene

This story has been updated with additional information.

Glendale police on Wednesday released surveillance video footage that showed a white utility van fleeing the scene after striking and severely injuring a 75-year-old woman last week.

The Glendale woman, Leleh Issakhanian, has remained in critical condition at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center since the Oct. 2 accident, police said.

Police say the driver of the white van struck Issakhanian about 4:22 p.m. as she exited her parked vehicle in the 1100 block of Western Avenue.

After hitting Issakhanian, the driver reportedly fled. The driver was last seen traveling east on Glenoaks Boulevard.

Police don’t know if the van has any significant damage as a result of the collision.

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Meanwhile, investigators were also reviewing surveillance video near the scene of the Oct. 3 hit-and-run crash that seriously injured Glendale residents Serpouhi Gharapetian and Bekzad Shahbazian, who were struck in a crosswalk at California and Central avenues.

Gharapetian, 74, remained in a medically-induced coma and on life support on Wednesday. Shahbazian, 69, is in serious condition.

The driver who struck the two friends fled in a white or light-gray compact or mid-size four-door car.

The latest accidents, including a fatal collision involving a pedestrian on Sept. 21 on Doran Street, have renewed city and police efforts to educate the residents about pedestrian and driver safety in Glendale.

“The real bottom line is that this isn’t a police department problem alone,” Police Chief Ron De Pompa said. “We can’t do it alone. We need the help of the public. We need the support of the public … to partner with us in making folks aware whether you are driving or walking in the city, that everybody has got to do their part to help address this issue and improve our traffic and pedestrian safety.”

Police officials have been enforcing road laws in neighborhoods with the most significant traffic safety problems, said De Pompa at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

“In essence, the issuing of citations — that truly changes driving behavior,” he said.

Officers plan to also conduct pedestrian sting operations, which De Pompa said police have successfully used in the past to enforce traffic safety.

“The idea is not to go out there to entrap anybody or create an unfair environment, but to increase the awareness of our driving public about the right of way to our pedestrians,” De Pompa said.

Along with citing drivers who fail to stop for residents walking the city streets, the department’s Traffic Bureau officers are handing out traffic safety fliers to the public.

But police are also focusing on the walking public because they also share half of the fault in pedestrian-involved collisions, he said.

Residents, he said, should be aware of their surroundings before they cross a street and make eye contact with drivers.

Pedestrians often enter a crosswalk or walk into traffic midblock without looking left, De Pompa said. City officials painted “Look” markings in several languages at certain crosswalks throughout the city to remind residents to scan the road before crossing.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman said she’s had several close calls with drivers who are making right turns and don’t see her in the crosswalk. She suggested placing markings to remind drivers to look out for pedestrians.

A primary factor in pedestrian-involved collisions are drivers who are looking left and turn right without checking right again, De Pompa said.

Councilman Zareh Sinanyan expressed concerns about pedestrian and driver safety problems growing as the city becomes urbanized. He urged city and police officials to think about traffic safety in terms of the future.

“Everybody is trying to do their best, but I think we’ve got to do better.”

Anyone with details about the Oct. 2 and 3 collisions or who saw either vehicle involved is asked to call the Police Department’s Traffic Bureau at (818) 548-3131 or (818) 548-4911.


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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