A school was left stunned Thursday after a tragic car crash sent three high school girls to the hospital.
“It’s been a shock. It really struck home and it’s a very close community and they’re very concerned. It’s been difficult for everyone,” said Cameron Wood, a parent whose child attends Oakwood, in an interview with NBC Los Angeles.
The girls were walking back from a nearby PE class back to their private school. They were struck just steps from their school. The crash happened at about 1:30 p.m. when the three girls were walking back from North Hollywood Park on Magnolia Boulevard. Even though the park is located on the same street as the school, students must walk across two freeway ramps to get there.
The brakes on Vertan Vartanian’s, 48, Toyota Prius failed, forcing the driver to run the red light at the bottom of the off ramp from the 170 freeway. He struck the girls in front of dozens of witnesses.
“Everyone is very shaken up,” said Matthew Malach, another Oakwood parent, in an interview with NBC Los Angeles.
All three victims remain hospitalized, one of which is in critical condition.
“She’s still hooked up to life support, she is not breathing on her own,” said Leland Tang, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, in an statement made to NBC Los Angeles.
The two other girls have broken bones and are expected to be released within the next week.
Vartanian has been cooperating with the investigation, according to Tang.
“Mr. Vartanian is inconsolable, he’s a complete wreck, as he said to us, he’s got kids himself, he’s just beside himself,” Tang said.
Vartanian’s car was a rental from Hertz, and the California Highway Patrol is still needing a search warrant to examine the car. Investigators will check the car’s airbag model, which may reveal if the car’s brakes failed.
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Source: NBC Los Angeles