One person died and three others were injured when a wrong-way driver crashed into another car in the northbound lanes of the 110 Freeway early Friday.

The crash happened just before 3 a.m. near Exposition Boulevard in the downtown Los Angeles area and involved a taxi and a black Chevy Cruze, according to the California Highway Patrol. 

Investigators say the driver of the Chevy was going southbound in the northbound lanes when she crashed into the taxi, killing the cab driver.

He was later identified as Ken Balayev, 71, of Calabasas.

wrong way crash
The crash scene on the 110 Freeway on May 26, 2023. (OnScene.TV)

The driver of the Cruze, identified as 23-year-old Samantha Molina, and a female passenger were hospitalized with serious injuries. The passenger of the taxi suffered minor injuries.

Molina was eventually arrested.

The collision forced the closure of the northbound 110 for several hours. All lanes reopened around 6 a.m. CHP is investigating whether drugs or alcohol were factors in the crash.

Balayev’s daughter told KTLA her father had just picked up passengers at LAX when the crash occurred.

“It’s a big loss for us, and I think I haven’t fully began to grasp just how big because it’s all so fresh and new,” Anna Balayev-Lim told KTLA via Zoom.

As an only child, her dad was one of her best friends. She had just been in Los Angeles, and her dad dropped her off at the airport.

Balayev was an Armenian refugee who arrived in the U.S. in 1991 and eventually settled in L.A., where he owned a dental lab.

He was married for 45 years, was a doting grandfather and was retired. Eight years ago he started driving a taxi because he liked to stay busy.

“He got to socialize with the people he worked with and also he got to socialize with the passenger and he really liked to drive,” his daughter said.

She worried about her dad. She said he had gotten into scuffles with passengers and had even been punched in the face before.

But she never thought his life would end in a deadly crash.

“He kissed me goodbye, and I didn’t know that was going to be my last time seeing him,” Balayev-Lim said.