Jason Shmelnik, 21, Pavel “Pasha” Volodkovich and Ekaterina Botvinieva, 23, were killed in a fiery car accident in Los Angeles. According to a CBS news report, the fatal crash occurred early morning on September 9, 2012 on Ventura Boulevard near Tujunga Avenue in Studio City. Officials say the three friends were traveling in a BMW that went out of control and struck several trees before crashing into Reno’s Pizzeria in the 11400 block of Ventura Boulevard. The impact sheared a gas line causing the car and the building to erupt in flames. The occupants of the vehicle were unable to get out in time and died at the scene. Police suspect that speed and alcohol were factors in this crash. The investigation is ongoing.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Shmelnik, Volodkovich and Botvinieva. The victims’ friends say the three were celebrating Shmelnik’s 21st birthday and were driving from a restaurant in the San Fernando Valley. Tragic! Please keep these grieving families in your thoughts and prayers.
Los Angeles DUI Crashes
There were 79 fatalities and 1,989 injuries involving DUI crashes in Los Angeles, according to California Highway Patrol’s 2010 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS). During the same year, 197 people died and 4,359 were injured due to alcohol-related crashes in Los Angeles County.
Driving Under the Influence
Based on this news report, it appears that the driver of the BMW may have been under the influence at the time. Officials are looking into reports that the driver, Volodkovich, had been drinking at the restaurant before leaving. When friends stopped him, he apparently told them he was okay to drive. Investigators are awaiting test results to determine if Volodkovich was under the influence at the time. It is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicants, according to California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a). Under California law, it is also illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher.
Protecting the Rights of Victims and Families
In cases where an individual’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, affected family members can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, and loss of love and companionship. An experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney will be able to better advise the victim’s family regarding their legal rights and options. For more information about the dangers of driving under the influence, please visit the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) web site at www.madd.org.