A BMW travelling at a high rate of speed down Ventura Boulevard in Studio City early Sunday morning smashed into a pizzeria and was engulfed in flames, killing the car's three occupants, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Police and fire officials believe the driver may have been drunk after celebrating a friend's 21st birthday party at nearby , which is west of the crash site and also on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. The victims were two men and a woman, all in their 20s.
"My understanding was that the driver was impaired, I don't know that for sure," Battalion Chief Daniel McCarty of the LAFD told Patch. "Witnesses in another car described the vehicle as travelling at a high rate of speed."
A friend of the crash victims, Alexander Polansky, told KTLA he felt "a lot of guilt because I ... because I saw that he was too drunk to drive. Something inside of me said... he's an adult, he'll get there, but the result is very unfortunate that he didn't."
The BMW was travelling east down Ventura Boulevard when the crash occurred about 3:35 a.m., according to the LAFD. The car hit a tree and sheared a natural gas line before smashing into at 11412 Ventura Blvd. The car was quickly engulfed in flames, according McCarty, who added the three victims likely survived the crash but perished in the fire.
"Right as it hit the restaurant, it also sheared off the gas main that feeds this building," said McCarty. "A fire ensued, and that fire was rapidly fed by the gas line. The three people in the vehicle perished in the fire. They obviously suffered injuries from the accident, but I believe it may have been a survivable accident if it hadn't been for the fire."
The Los Angeles Coroner's office identified one of the victims as Jason Shmelnik of Los Angeles, and media outlets and people who visited the site said that the others were Pavel Volodkovich (known as Pasha), also of Los Angeles, and Ekaterina Botvinieva, who was visiting from New York. Volodkovich was identified as the driver.
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