[Updated] Tragic Incident Forces Early End to AYF Dinner-Dance

A tow truck driver struck parked cars, electrical pole, fire hydrant and a valet attendant during the tragic incident on Sunday at the AYF dinner dance
A tow truck driver struck parked cars, electrical pole, fire hydrant and a valet attendant during the tragic incident on Sunday at the AYF dinner dance

A tow truck driver struck parked cars, electrical pole, fire hydrant and a valet attendant during the tragic incident on Sunday at the AYF dinner dance

Police arrest suspect, identify victim

GLENDALE—The Armenian Youth Federation Western Region’s annual dinner-dance was marred by tragedy in the early hours on Sunday when an incident outside of the building forced the evacuation of the hall and effectively cut short an evening of celebration and solidarity for Artsakh and the AYF’s “With Our Soldiers” campaign.

At approximately 1 a.m. Sunday, a tow truck traveling Southbound on San Fernando Road crashed into several parked cars in front of the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat Center, where the event was being held. The driver also struck an electrical pole and a fire hydrant, cutting off electricity to the building and creating a geyser-like spray of water.

The driver of the tow truck fled the scene, after fatally injuring one person. He was arrested Sunday afternoon and was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence, according to LAPD spokeswoman, Officer Rosario Herrera. He was identified as Manuel Valdez Rios, according to Captain Rick Stabile of the LAPD Northeast Division.

Victim of Sunday's tragedy Hovhannes Abgaryan

Victim of Sunday’s tragedy Hovhannes Abgaryan

The LAPD identified the victim as Hovhannes Abgaryan, a valet attendant. According to a crowd funding effort launched by the victim’s family to defray funeral costs, Abgaryan had completed his shift and was en-route to his car when he was struck by the driver and died on the spot.

On Sunday the LAPD declared the area surrounding Homenetmen Ararat Center a crime scene forcing the cancellation of all events on Sunday and Monday morning. An Ararat spokesperson told Asbarez that on Monday morning power was restored to the facility and clean up was underway.

Leadership of both the AYF and Homenetmen express their condolences to the family of the victim and thanked all the attendees for their cooperation in dealing with the tragedy.

Those attending the event who were forced to abandon their vehicles in the parking lot and evacuate were able to retrieve their cars on Sunday evening. Homenetmen Ararat officials reported Monday that there were still several cars in the parking lot and urged the owners of the vehicles to immediately retrieve them.

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4 Comments

  1. Zarik Hacopian said:

    I was one of the attendants of the event. First I want to express my condolences to Mr. Apgaryan,s family. My heart just aches at this senseless tragedy. Second I want to thank the AYF youth (Serob and Seta) for assisting those of us who couldn’t get their cars and needed help with getting home; your generosity, respectful demeanor and honorable gestures elevate the status of your organization. Third, the evening was beautifully organized, it reminded me of the events we used to organize as students in the 70’s (this is a huge compliment btw). I hope you were able to meet some of your humanitarian goals for the Artsakh soldiers. May your strength, conviction and hard work bring about our nation’s Common Goals.

  2. Nelli Abgaryan said:

    I have stopped looking at the sky in the night, because destiny has taken away my life’s brightest star. I miss you Dad. sirumem qez shaaaat pap jan ❤️.

  3. Nejdeh Avedian said:

    I am a coach at Ararat and use to be an AYF member (Valley Chapter) in the mid 80’s. It breaks my heart to read the comments from Nelli (daughter of Hovhannes). My condolences to the family. Because of one persons irresponsibility, so many lives have been altered.

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