When Pananian attempted to pass a 2004 Ford F-150 that was travelling at 50 mph, he rear-ended the pick-up truck, causing him to lose control of his vehicle. The Fiesta then “veered right, out of control, and overturned multiple times” before coming to a halt at the Colorado Street freeway sign. Pananian was not wearing his seatbelt during the time of the crash and he was ejected from the vehicle. His dead body landed atop of the Colorado Street freeway sign at exit 142, which is 20-feet above ground. However, police officials say before the violent car wreck occurred, they received a call from an anonymous caller saying there was a vehicle on southbound 5 driving recklessly.
— KTLA (@KTLA) October 30, 2015
Officer Edgar Figueroa said, “I’ve never seen anything like this or heard anything like this. It’s the first time.” However, “The dynamics of a vehicle collision, especially at high speeds – and including not wearing a seatbelt – anything like that can happen. Driving at a high rate of speed, not wearing a seatbelt, and rolling over… people get ejected out of cars like that.”
“It’s tragic to see somebody lose their life in a situation like this, but we see this every day.”
The 45-year-old driver of the pick-up truck was not injured during the horrifying car crash, nor was his two passengers. According to People Magazine, the Los Angeles Fire Department was called to the scene where they pronounced Pananian dead. However, “Based on the injuries sustained and force of impact,” it is unclear what caused the driver’s death nor are they clear if drugs or alcohol played a role in the accident, but an investigation is underway.
Firefighters had to close two lanes along interstate 5 while they investigated the scene of the accident. Meanwhile, Pananian’s dead body remained perched on the freeway sign for three hours, covered with a white sheet, awaiting the arrival of the coroner’s officer. They then used a ladder to climb up to the freeway sign and remove the body, and all lanes were reopened at 11 a.m.
It was reported that Pananian was employed at a “Van Nuys-based auto sales company called LA Autostore.” The company has since expressed their condolences on their Facebook page, saying “We’re sadly informing that our Co-worker got involved in an accident with fatal result. Dear Richard (Tiko) Pananian, you will be in our hearts forever. Rest in peace.”
Before Los Angeles police officials and the fire department arrived at the scene of the accident, hundreds of drivers witnessed the body atop of the freeway sign and thought it was a Halloween prank. “A lot of people were calling our office asking if it was a prank,” said Figueroa. “They thought it was a Halloween prank and it wasn’t.”
The spokesman, Brian Humphrey, for the Los Angeles Fire Department said, “It traumatized many people who saw it. Seatbelts are designed to protect occupants in all types of collisions, but they have to be used. The use of seatbelts may have prevented this tragic and dramatic death.”
According to the Los Angeles County Coroner Lt. David Smith, an autopsy was scheduled Saturday, but it will take six to eight months before the results of the toxicology report to come back.
[Image via YouTube screen capture]