The wood panel covering the smashed window at the pizzeria has messages written to the three young people who died in the Sunday morning in Studio City. Someone left a Sharpie so that others can add their messages, too.
Workers headed in and out of at 11412 Ventura Blvd. to assess the damage. It won’t be open for a while. A TV set on the wall at the far end of the restaurant just simply melted when the car erupted into a fireball. The owners are glad that the crash didn’t happen in the daytime.
at the site throughout the day Sunday and into the evening on Monday. They still wouldn’t talk Monday night, but remain kneeled at the site as people continue to stop, take photos and drop flowers.
“It’s just too hard to talk, not yet, not yet,” said one of the girls. “It’s still too hard.”
Three friends died after they left a party of a friend who was turning 21. Witnesses told police they were driving in a silver BMW at 100 mph down Ventura Boulevard when the car lost control, hit the sidewalk and smashed into two pepper trees, a fire hydrant, a gas line and the pizzeria window.
25, a promising dancer who competed on Dancing With the Stars in 2007 was in the car and perished at the scene, according to the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office. Although authorities haven’t confirmed the other two victims in the accident, friends congregated at the scene said that the others in the car were Schmelnik’s close friend, Pavel Volodkovich, known to friends as “Pasha,” and a visiting friend from New York, Ekaterina Botvinieva Uspshanaya.
On Monday afternoon, Rabbi Sholom Rodal who knows Shmelnik’s family, came by the accident site and recited the 23rd Psalm in Hebrew. The girls joined in reciting the passages.
“People come back to the scene of crash sites like this because we believe that the soul still lingers in the area where it last left the physical body,” said Rabbi Rodal of the Chabad of Mount Olympus.
“There is a very active Armenian Russian Jewish community, and they are very closeknit,” the rabbi said. “This is a time for grief and prayer.”
Patrick Regan was working at the across the street when the accident occurred.
“We could feel the heat of the flames from across the street,” Regan said. “There was nothing anyone could do.”
The car driven by Pasha was traveling eastbound from Romanov’s and the trio was headed to an after-party, friends said. The three had been drinking that night, the friends added.
Violeta Vlasova told KTLA that some people were concerned about the driver’s level of intoxication, and that someone tried to take his keys, but it they weren’t able to get them.
Another friend, Alexander Polansky, told KTLA that he felt a lot of guilt because “I saw that he was too drunk to drive.''
Police are awaiting toxicology reports that could take weeks.
About 80 people gathered at the scene the night after the accident, prompting police to come to keep the crowd out of the streets.
Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said the first report of the crash came at about 3:35 a.m. and it took 52 firefighters 23 minutes to put out the resulting pizzeria blaze. The three victims were pronounced dead at the scene.
Tributes to Pasha and Jason, as well as Jason’s appearances on TV flooded YouTube and are available above.
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