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.
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.