Two Los Angeles-area women, trying to help a driver who had crashed into a fire hydrant, were electrocuted and killed by a power line that had fallen into the water gushing from the broken hydrant. They were praised as heroes for their efforts.
The two women were in the Valley Village neighborhood of Los Angeles on Wednesday evening, police said, when an SUV lost control, hitting the hydrant and a lamp post near it. Water shot into the air, quickly pooling in the street - and it became electrified by the power line. The Los Angeles Fire Department estimated the current at 4,800 volts.
Witnesses said Irma Zamora, 40, ran from her car to try to help the driver, and was killed by the electric shock. A second woman was killed when she tried to help Zamora. Her name has not been released.
"They did what good Samaritans have done in this community many times," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a news conference Thursday.
"There was some gentleman going, "Don't touch her! Don't touch her!' Then there was somebody else going, 'Somebody help her! Somebody pull her out!'" eyewitness Everett Hernandez told ABC station KABC-TV. "I saw people. It looked like they were wrestling…but what they were really doing is they were pulling people from getting electrocuted because there was a live wire under the water."
"This is one of those cases where the village came to help and the villagers suffered as a result of their good will. It's an unfortunate situation," LAPD Capt. Peter Whittingham told KABC.
Officers said in addition to the two female victims, a total of eight people were injured, many suffering minor burns caused by the electrified water. Five people were taken to a local hospital and one was treated at the scene. The driver sustained minor injuries.
LAPD investigators cited excessive speed as a likely factor in the crash. They said they did not believe alcohol was involved.
Police said that the case will be forwarded to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which will decide whether to file charges against the driver.