LOS ANGELES » Police on Thursday asked for the public’s help to find the suspected driver of a Ford Mustang that veered out of control during a street race in the San Fernando Valley and plowed into spectators, killing two men and critically injuring a third.
Henry Michael Gevorgyan, 21, was behind the wheel of the souped-up car and could face murder charges, police said at an afternoon news conference.
The accident occurred at about 2:15 a.m. on Plummer Street in Chatsworth, about 30 miles northwest of downtown.
That section of the street is in a commercial and office area that is mainly deserted at night. It has long been the scene for illegal nighttime street races, police and locals said.
Video obtained by KABC-TV showed the Mustang and another car screeching off the line as dozens of spectators watched. Seconds later, the Mustang wheels right and charges across the street into the crowd on a sidewalk.
The driver "spun out and hit the curb and the embankment then spun around and hit the victims and came to rest against a pole," said Capt. John McMahon, commanding officer of the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division.
Two men died — one at the scene and the other at a hospital. One was identified as Eric Siguenza, 26, of Los Angeles. The family of the other man, who was 50 years old, did not want his name released, police said.
Luis Gonzalez, 21, was taken to a hospital in critical condition, police said.
In the wake of the accident, City Council member Mitch Englander said he planned to introduce a proposal that would allow police to seize cars that are involved in street racing or reckless driving accidents that cause serious harm or death.
"It’s a deadly game and they have proven that once again," Englander told the Los Angeles Daily News. "It’s all too frequent here in the San Fernando Valley. We’ve had these races for years and it’s really grown."
Police have tried to crack down on illegal street racing. In the past two months, officers have arrested 23 people for illegal street racing gatherings and cited 496 people that had modified vehicles, police said. Nearly 50 of those cited or arrested had previous convictions for street racing or aggressive driving, police said.