A special benefit performance was held Thursday night in Long Beach for five ballet dancers severely injured in a violent hit-and-run crash in February that was captured on surveillance cameras.
Footage released by the Seal Beach Police Department showed the moment a man in a gold 1987 Mercedes Benz 300 blew through a red light on Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street on Feb. 11, striking the sedan carrying five teenage girls.
All five of the girls, members of Premier Dance Arts of Los Alamitos, had been dancing together earlier in the day and were on the way to a dinner reservation when they were hit. After the crash, they were all rushed to the hospital. Four of the girls had been knocked unconscious by the sheer force of the impact.
Thursday night’s benefit performance in the auditorium at Millikan High School was hosted by Los Alamitos Ballet Theater and titled “Ballet in Bloom.” The funds raised at the event will help to offset medical and recovery expenses as the girls continue to recover from injuries they sustained in the crash.
“It feels really amazing. I think when this happened in February, we didn’t know what was coming at all, and we’re really excited to be able to watch our friends dance and then get excited to perform again all together, hopefully soon,” Olivia Reck, one of the injured dancers, told KTLA.
“I’m so glad that we can all be here and we’re all standing, and I don’t know, something was on our side that night,” Katrina Sonwane, another injured dancer, said.
The event featured professional guest artists as well as a silent auction, a raffle and a post-show question and answer session with the cast.
“It just means so much to me,” said Camille Williamson. “I never would’ve imagined how much love I would get from people I know well, and I don’t know well.”
Renee and David Kim, directors of the Los Alamitos Company and the girls’ teachers, opened the show.
“Every time I watched them, they were just always my biggest inspirations,” Rhyann Diaz, one of the injured dancers, said. “So, being able to watch them is just great.”
All the girls said they feel like they’ve been given a second chance in life and are looking forward to continuing to make dance a part of it.
“Hopefully, we can all do ‘The Nutcracker’ in December? We’ll see,” Reck said.
The hit-and-run suspect, 23-year-old Jahson Imgrund, eluded authorities for just over a week, but eventually surrendered himself to the Seal Beach Police Department.