A 20-year-old Burbank man whose body landed on an overhead exit ramp sign after a rollover crash near Griffith Park was passing vehicles on the right shoulder of the 5 Freeway before veering out of control, CHP announced Friday afternoon.
The collision occurred just before 7 a.m. on the southbound freeway just north of the eastbound 134 Freeway overpass (map).
Richard Pananian of Burbank was killed, according to Lt. David Smith of the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
A witness told the California Highway Patrol that Pananian was driving his 2004 Ford Fiesta at a high rate of speed and passing vehicles on the right shoulder.
The 45-year-old driver of a 2004 Ford F-150 was in the No. 4 lane going 50 mph when Pananian veered left from the right-hand shoulder and hit the pickup truck’s rear, according to a CHP collision report.
The Fiesta then veered right, out of control, and overturned multiple times. As the Fiesta traveled up an embankment, Pananian was ejected about 20 feet into the air, colliding with an exit ramp sign overhead, the report stated.
Pananian came to rest on the “ledge” in front of the sign. His severely damaged Fiesta rolled back onto the freeway.
“Based on the injuries sustained and force of impact” with the F-150, it wasn’t clear exactly what killed Pananian, the CHP report stated.
He was pronounced dead by Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics.
The F-150 driver, who had two passengers in his truck, was not injured, nor were his passengers.
It appeared Pananian was not wearing a seat belt, according to CHP.
“Any time you speed and you don’t wear your seat belt, there’s a good chance you’re going to get hurt, if not killed,” CHP Officer Edgar Figueroa said on scene.
It was not known if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash, the CHP report stated.
Pananian’s body was covered with a sheet after firefighters ascended a ladder and worked to remove the body in the 9 a.m. hour. The body remained there for several hours.
He had landed on a sign alerting drivers to the Colorado Street exit, three-quarters of a mile away.
Pananian apparently worked at a Van Nuys-based automobile sales company called L.A. Autostore. “Rest in peace,” the company stated of “Tiko” on Facebook.
All southbound and northbound lanes of the 5 Freeway were temporarily blocked, and the two southbound right lanes were closed for an extended period.
All lanes reopened about 11 a.m., CHP’s Southern Division stated on Twitter.
The incident happened in the Griffith Park area, bordering on the northern section of the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles.