Lawyers for the Los Angeles woman who struck and killed two young brothers in a crosswalk as she was allegedly engaged in a race with another driver says that the city’s failure to make the intersection safer is “one of the primary causes” of the boys’ deaths.
Rebecca Grossman is charged with murder in the deaths of Jacob Iskander, 8, and Mark Iskander, 11, who were killed on Sept. 29, 2020, while crossing a street in their Westlake Village neighborhood. Grossman was allegedly “engaged in a high-speed game of chicken” at the time with former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Scott Erickson when she struck the brothers with her car.
The boys, who were on roller skates and a skateboard at the time, were crossing a marked crosswalk with their parents, Nancy Iskander and Karim Iskander, nearby.
Grossman has pleaded not guilty. According to her lawyer, previous reports about the incident have been inaccurate.
“[I]t is now clear that one of the primary causes of the accident, in this case, was the dangerous aspects of the pedestrian crossing where it occurred,” attorney Tony Buzbee said Tuesday in a statement emailed to Law&Crime. “Our freedom of information act requests has revealed that, despite multiple complaints from concerned citizens and many near misses, the city of Westlake Village refused on at least five occasions (2014/2017/2018/2019) to make the crossing safe.”
Those emails allegedly included exhortations to add either a stoplight or flashing lights to the crossing, according to Buzbee.
“I fear someone will get hurt or killed,” one email allegedly read. “[I]f someone gets killed I hope the family knows that this has been reported repeatedly and sues the city for negligence,” said another, according to Buzbee.
Buzbee said that the city engineer had determined that the crossing was on a “blind curve,” but still the city did not take action.
“Sadly, as is typical for a neglectful government, nine days after the accident in this case, the city finally acted when it allocated $250,000 to install flashing lights at this crossing,” Grossman’s attorney said. “Of course, that action was too little, too late.”
Buzbee noted that the Iskander family have sued the City of Westlake and the State of California, alleging that the crossing was a “substantial factor” in the deaths of their sons.
“It is ironic that the Iskander family not only sued the City of Westlake, but also sued the State of California for their sons’ deaths — the same entity that now is attempting to prosecute Mrs. Grossman,” Buzbee’s statement said. “It is unfathomable to me how the State thinks it can prosecute someone while it is at the same time being sued for ‘recklessness,’ and negligence for the very same incident.”
Buzbee also said that his investigators have “preliminary determined” from at least two sources that Grossman was traveling at just under 52 miles per hour when she struck the boys, a significantly slower speed than what prosecutors have alleged.
Law enforcement had testified that Grossman was calculated to have been driving at 71.7 miles per hour when she hit the boys. Sheriffs deputies had previously clocked her speed as exceeding 80 miles per hour just seconds before.
Grossman allegedly kept driving after striking the children, only stopping a quarter-mile away because her engine cut off, authorities have said. A sheriff’s deputy testified that mark was thrown 254 feet.
Erickson, who reportedly drove past the family before Grossman struck the boys, has been charged with misdemeanor reckless driving.
Representatives for the city of Westlake Village did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s request for comment.
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