Stephanie Elam, Peter Garrow
When a car crashed into a light pole and a hydrant near their Valley Village apartment, Beau Maxon and his twin brother rushed to help. Beau was shocked by the electrified water, and sent to the hospital. Stephanie Elam reports from Valley Village on Aug. 30, 2012.
Fundraising efforts are underway to assist the would-be rescuers that rushed to the scene of a crash in Valley Village, where an SUV slammed into a light pole and sheared off a hydrant, creating a dangerous combination of water and electricity that killed two women and shocked several other people.
LA City Councilman Paul Krekorian announced on Thursday that "sufficient funds" have been raised to cover the ambulance costs for those injured in the Aug. 22 crash.
"No one who puts themselves in harm’s way should have to struggle to pay the bills that accrue as a result of their altruism," Krekorian said.
"This community is tremendously appreciative of the efforts and sacrifices of these Angelenos who came to the assistance of a stranger, and I’m proud to join with them in showing our support with financial assistance."
City officials say the department is already stressed financially and cannot waive the ambulance fees for the victims.
Donations can be sent to San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council Inc., 4505 Las Virgenes Canyon Road, Suite 211, Calabasas, CA 91302.
The mother of 39-year-old Stacey Schreiber, of the women killed, spoke at the Thursday news conference.
"It takes a village to raise a child," she said. "It also takes a village to bury a child."
Shreiber, of Valley Village, and Irma Zamora, 40, of Burbank, were killed by electrocution when they rushed to help the 19-year-old driver of an SUV who had slammed into a light pole and sheared off a hydrant, sending water gushing about two stories into the air and on to severed power lines below.
Zamora died in front of her husband, who had to be held back from trying to reach his wife's body in the pool of electrified water.
Beau Maxon was one of the first would-be rescuers to rush to the scene, despite being uninsured.
"I put my right hand on her forearm and my left hand on her shoulder and that's when it hit," he said. "And I just went to ground and I remember every muscle in my body tensing up so bad that I couldn't move and my heart felt like it was going to explode.
"That's when I realized she's being electrocuted and now I am."
Maxon yelled to the other responders to get back. A week after the crash, the light post and hydrant are replaced, a move Maxon says is disrespectful of what happened there.
"To me it says, it's not such a big deal that two women died and they're not concerned about everyone else because it could happen right now," he said.
Krekorian said light posts in the city are being outfitted with safer wiring, but he's not sure if this new post is one of them.
During a news conference on Aug. 24, Krekorian lauded the women’s spirit. He called the horrific incident "a day of heartbreaking tragedy and inspiring heroism."
The crash happened at about 8:25 p.m. on Aug. 22 in the 12000 block of West Magnolia Boulevard, near Laurel Canyon Boulevard.
Witnesses said the women had would-be rescuers of their own. James Pike recalled three men who attempted to pull them from the electrified water, only to get shocked themselves.
Multiple witnesses were shocked and hospitalized, authorities said.
Days after the tragedy, dozens of teary-eyed residents joined first responders at a grief counseling event at Fire Station 60.
Families of the victims and first responders honored the women, saying their actions may have saved others from a similar fate.
"Had it not been for those two women sacrificing their lives, there could have been more individuals who could have made the same attempt ... including our folks," Fire Department Battalion Chief Peter Benesch said at the event.
Firefighters used rubber gloves and a pike pole to remove the victims from the water and rushed them to the hospital where the women died.
Eight others, ranging from 19 to 57 years old, were injured when they stepped into electrified pools of water, officials said. The driver was the only who did not suffer injuries from being shocked.
Police identified the driver of the SUV as Arman Samsonian, 19, of Glendale. He has not been cited but is cooperating with law enforcement.
Officials on Thursday said it will be several weeks for the investigation into the crash is complete.
The tragedy prompted reminders to residents to call 911 immediately and to “always, always” assess the safety of a situation before running in.