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Families Suing L.A., DWP Over Electrocution Deaths

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The accident scene (Photo courtesy LAFD/Flickr)
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The families of two women who were electrocuted after coming to the aid of motorist last year are now suing not only the driver, but the city and the Department of Water and Fire.

The driver pled not guilty this week to causing a collision in Valley Village on August 22, 2012; he crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant and utility pole near the corner of Magnolia Boulevard and Ben Avenue in Valley Village. The combination of water spraying from the hydrant and live wires from the utility pole was deadly; two women were tragically electrocuted when they tried to help him and six others were injured.

The families of Stacey Lee Schrieber and Irma Zamora are blaming the city of Los Angeles and the Department of Water and Power for ignoring repeated warnings that a fire hydrant and utility pole were installed too close to each other, the Daily Breeze reports.

"What we found through our investigation was that there were multiple complaints that where this was set up could cause a dangerous situation," said Payam Tavakoli, the attorney for Zamora's son, David Aguilar.

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The second lawsuit, filed by Barbara Kausch, Schrieber's mother, and Daniel Woloszyn, Zamora's husband, was filed May 29. Both lawsuits are seeking unspecified damages in excess of $25,000.

Perhaps one of the reasons the families are suing the city: Despite public outcry, they were stuck with the bill for the paramedics' service. At the time, fire officials blamed the city's municipal code, which does not allow automatically exempting good Samaritans or the victims of violent crime.

The driver, Arman Samsonian, 20, was ordered to stand trial this week on two felony vehicular manslaughter charges. He entered a plea of not guilty. He is currently out on bail.

The District Attorney's Office alleges that Samsonian's reckless driving was the cause of the women's deaths.

Last year, Samsonian's sister Ani said that her brother blames himself, but he wasn't racing. She also said that he tried to help one of the fallen women and got shocked as well.

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"He told me to please get flowers and take it to the site. He really feels bad for these poor women," she said. "He's thinking about the families. He was blaming himself, but I told him 'It's not your fault that there were live wires and nobody knew about it.'"

"Everyone involved in this is going to be changed forever. Nobody is going to look at life the same way," she said.

Related:
http://laist.com/2012/08/30/city_will_not_waive_bills_for_elect.php
Sister Of Driver In Valley Village Crash Says Her Brother Blames Himself For Tragedy
Driver Jailed For Crash That Led to Fatal Electrocutions of Good Samaritans On Scene
2 Women Fatally Electrocuted Helping Out at Car Crash Scene