Another high-speed crash in Los Angeles has torn more families apart. On August 3rd, three people were killed in a horrific crash in Burbank, California. Police have said that they believe street racing is responsible for the deaths. It’s a horrifying parallel to another death in the area in recent months; that of Monique Munoz, who was killed by 17-year-old Brendan Khuri as he raced his Lamborghini in West Los Angeles before he struck her vehicle and killed her. People are outraged that this tragedy has played out again and this time with more deaths – when and how does it end?
Burbank Crash Kills 3
On August 3rd, a Kia and Mercedes Benz were traveling Eastbound on Glenoaks Blvd. They were moving at a high rate of speed and most likely street racing, a dangerous pastime favored by the wealthy kids of the powerful who have fast cars and no accountability. According to police, the Kia then t-boned a Volkswagen carrying three passengers that attempted a legal left turn, and the force of the crash ejected all three passengers from the VW.
FOXLA reports that the three innocent people in the VW were pronounced dead at the scene and two others involved in the crash were transported to the hospital. The driver of the Kia has since been released from the hospital and the other is listed as in “stable” condition.
There has been little to no information released beyond this, leading to speculation online that the drivers and/or passengers of the other two vehicles are minors. Since no names have been shared, they may well be minors whose parents are well-connected, protecting them from an outraged public who wants to see them held accountable. Protests have sprung up since the crash, demanding an end to illegal street racing and hoping those who participate will wake up and realize the cost of such reckless behavior.
Tony Baker Vows to Keep Cracking Jokes
The three victims of the accident are:
- Cerain Anthony Raekwon Baker, 21 who is from Pasadena
- Jaiden Kishon Johnson, 20, who is from the Burbank area
- Natalee Asal Moghaddam, 19, from nearby Calabasas
Baker is the son of well-known comedian Tony Baker, whose world was rocked with the call no one wants to receive after the horrifying crash. But Baker is using humor to cope and continues to crack jokes even as his heart breaks in half. Baker shared an Instagram image that read, “My Heart Is Absolutely Broken Out Here On The Streets. But You Best Believe I Have STILL Been Crackin Jokes.” Baker then added a caption with a bit more gravity to the image; “Myself and My Family are overwhelmed with the love and care from friends, fans and complete strangers. I FEEL the love. I see the text messages and some of the DM’s and just want you all to know that it’s appreciated. I know i am not alone and we are blessed to have soo many people to lean on, cling to and call. I loved that boy sooo much. My heart goes out to Jaiden & Natalee’s families as well. For those that were at the Vigil on Wednesday nite, you know that i was howling crying one minute, then crackin jokes the next. Thank You All. And I ‘m soo sorry that yal are sad too.”
At the scene of the crash, Moghaddam’s father reportedly spoke to a chaplain and tearfully explained that his daughter was a college student. All were tragically young, and completely innocent.
Monique’s Death Plus Three; When Will it End?
It’s a horrible replay of tragedy for the Los Angeles area, months after Munoz was killed by Khuri earlier this year. Munoz’s death ignited a firestorm after police were slow to arrest Khuri, and Khuri’s father entrepreneur James Khuri continued to throw lavish parties and live life unapologetically out loud as the Munoz family planned their loved one’s funeral. They felt slapped in the face by his cavalier dismissal of their loved one’s death, and Brendan’s skirting of responsibility enraged the public.
Eventually, the younger Khuri was booked and faces charges of felony vehicular manslaughter. Brendan is currently under house arrest, but the father who bought a reckless 17-year-old a tragically fast car continues to live it up without remorse. An apology to the Munoz family was slow to come from the Khuri camp, insultingly slow.
Since Munoz’s death, the Los Angeles community has been debating what it means to have two sets of rules for people; one for the wealthy and connected, and another set for everyone else. If Khuri had been anyone less wealthy or connected, it’s likely his son would have been arrested much faster since the facts of the wreck were not in dispute.
A debate has also raged around how much accountability parents have for buying their teens dangerously fast cars. It’s a rite of passage among many wealthy families when a kid reaches 16 or 17, they get their first fast car. But teen brains have trouble processing long-term consequences and they often engage in dangerous behavior without any real understanding of what the consequences may be. So if/when an accident occurs, how much blame do the parents have? It’s an ongoing debate online and in the LA community.
And with the death of these three young people fresh, the debate has renewed again with more fervor. A protest sprung up outside of city hall in Burbank on Tuesday, a week to the day after the crash. FOXLA reports, “‘Hold these people accountable. Make sure that if they don’t do anything about this, you vote them out,’ said Aida Rodriguez, a comedian and family friend of one of the victims.”
Protestors were there to encourage the city and police to take action, to hold the drivers of the other cars accountable and to make sure that street racing is put to an end. It’s already illegal in Burbank, but again the culture of “rite of passage for rich kids” makes it so that the streets of Burbank are often buzzing with street races most nights.
When you talk about ending street racing and holding parents accountable for buying their kids dangerous cars, you’re talking less about laws and more about changing culture. But the families of Munoz, Baker, Johnson, and Moghaddam just want accountability. Munoz’s family has called for the judge to pass down the maximum sentence for the felony he faces. And for the other families, the whole scenario is playing out in slow motion as the police decide whether or not to charge the drivers.