Glendale hit-and-run victim dies while in coma

Glendale hit-and-run victim dies while in coma
Glendale resident Serpouhi Gharapetian, who died on Oct. 9 after she and a friend were struck by a hit-and-run driver. (Courtesy of Gharapetian family)
A 74-year-old Glendale woman has died from injuries she suffered after she and a friend were struck in a crosswalk by a hit-and-run driver on Oct. 3, police said Tuesday.

Serpouhi Gharapetian suffered major head injuries and was in a coma until she died Oct. 9 at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, according Tahnee Lightfoot, Glendale police spokeswoman.


"My sister, she's gone," her brother, Roobik Gharapetian, said.

She died roughly an hour after he arrived from Canada in the hopes of seeing her, he said.


Now he and her two sons are waiting for the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office to release her body so they can plan her funeral.

Serpouhi Gharapetian was meticulous and had already prepared her own funeral arrangements, including instructions on her hair and make-up, said Roobik Gharapetian's wife, Rosa.

She was always into the latest hair and make-up trends, she added.

"She loved life," Rosa Gharapetian said.


But she was stricken with hip problems, so her physician advised her to walk more. On her doctor's advice, she began taking regular walks with her 69-year-old neighbor and friend, Bekzad Shahbazian, who was also injured in the collision.

On night of the hit-and-run, Serpouhi Gharapetian and Shahbazian had gone for a stroll around the neighborhood and planned to buy some candy to pass out to children on Halloween, her brother said.

As the friends entered the crosswalk about 8 p.m. at Central and California avenues, they were struck by a vehicle that ran a red light. It was described as a white or light gray four-door compact or midsized sedan.

The driver fled the scene, according to witnesses, leaving the two women severely injured.

Shahbazian suffered severe head trauma but was recently released from the hospital.

She is recovering, but she is heartbroken about her friend's death, Shahbazian's niece said.

Police have reviewed two surveillance videos near the accidents but the videos didn't reveal anything, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said. Officers have also stopped receiving tips from the public about the incident, he said.

Still, Serpouhi Gharapetian's brother said he is hoping police will locate the fleeing driver.


In effort to improve the chances that hit-and-run drivers will face justice throughout the state, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on Saturday a bill introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) that extends the current three-year statute of limitations for hit-and-run offenses to six years from the date of the incident.

"AB 184 will allow victims of hit-and-runs and law enforcement to obtain justice from cowards who do everything possible to avoid responsibility for their actions," Gatto said in a statement. "Thousands of hit-and-run victims suffer life-threatening injuries annually. Allowing the perpetrators to avoid prosecution just adds insult to these injuries."

The new law goes into effect Jan. 1.

Anyone with details about the two hit-and-run collisions in Glendale is asked to call the police department's Traffic Bureau at (818) 548-3131 or (818) 548-4911.


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