Sheriff’s officials confirm six 9-1-1 calls made prior to teen’s death

Citizens are asking whether having a patrol car in the area could have prevented the death of Emily Rose Shane, who was struck and killed by a driver whose erratic driving elicited several emergency calls prior to the accident.

By Olivia Damavandi / Assistant Editor

A Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department official recently confirmed that six emergency 9-1-1 calls were made regarding the dangerous driving of a motorist who struck and killed a teenager on Pacific Coast Highway earlier this month. The first four calls were made before the car driven by 26-year-old Sina Khankanian hit Emily Rose Shane, who was 13.

The release of this information has sparked the question of whether the fatal collision could have been avoided if Sheriff’s officials had a patrol car in the area that could have responded to the calls more quickly.

Detective Mark Lillienfeld of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau on Monday confirmed that the calls were placed, but said he “couldn’t say” whether or not the fatality could have been prevented.

“Like anywhere else in Southern California, that whole area [of Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu] could use more police presence,” Lillienfeld said. “We respond pretty quickly when citizens provide us with calls like that. Most often, we are able to get there in a timely manner.”

Lillienfeld could not state the exact times the calls were placed, but confirmed that the first five were made by citizens and received by the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station between approximately 5:03 p.m. and approximately 5:17 p.m.

The car struck Shane at 5:11 p.m., according to a Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s report.

In the first calls, a citizen reported a very dangerous driver on Topanga Canyon headed toward Pacific Coast Highway.

The fifth call was made from the scene of the collision. The sixth call was made after the collision and was received by a CHP dispatcher. The recordings of the 9-1-1 calls will not be released because of their importance to the case.

“If you’ve got someone driving like a crazy person through town, the sooner you get them off the road the better off we’ll be,” Malibu Public Safety Commissioner Carol Randall said Tuesday in a phone interview. “Police aren’t saying anything because it’s a homicide investigation, and there are different stories about where the 9-1-1 calls went.”

Khankhanian of Winnetka pleaded not guilty in connection with Shane’s death. Judge Keith L. Schwartz ordered Khankhanian jailed on the $3 million bail recommended by the prosecution. He is expected to appear at the Airport Branch Courthouse in Los Angeles on May 6 for scheduling of a preliminary hearing.

The complaint alleged he used a deadly weapon, an automobile, to commit the crime, according to a press release by the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

Detectives said Shane was walking home from a friend’s house on April 3 at 5:11 p.m. along the 29000 block of Pacific Coast Highway near Heathercliff Road when Khankhanian, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer, hit her. His car then struck a pole and overturned. Investigators believe Khankhanian may have intentionally crashed his car, but they do not believe he intended to hit Shane.

Increasing the safety on Pacific Coast Highway is not a new issue, but another wave of efforts to do so is currently underway.

Some have recommended reducing the speed limit along the highway, which currently is 45 mph.

“People have talked about lowering the speed limit,” Randall said. “Whenever we talk to Caltrans about it they say, ‘You need more enforcement.’” No matter what the speed limit is, if people aren’t going to obey it, what difference does it make what’s posted?”

Many others, including newly elected Malibu City Councilman Lou La Monte, have advocated the reimplementation of the CHP along the highway within city limits.

Malibu is one of two cities in the state that does not receive traffic enforcement from the CHP for its state roads. Santa Clara is the other city. The California Vehicle Code specifies that CHP service in Malibu will be provided, if requested by the city, and if a contract is entered into between the state and the city. Also, if a contract is made for services, Malibu must pay for the service.

The loss of the CHP dates back to 1991 when Malibu became a city. In doing so, the city assumed responsibility for the roads and the highway in Malibu, as well as law enforcement, and entered into an exclusive contract with the Sheriff’s Department. Some city officials in past interviews have said the decision was made because it would be more cost effective to have just the Sheriff’s Department patrol the highway, since the CHP provides only traffic enforcement.

The city in past years has said it doesn’t have the money to also contract the CHP.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Department is asking for the public’s assistance in investigating the fatal collision involving Shane. They are asking witnesses who observed the accident and can give a description of the vehicle’s behavior to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at 323.890.5500. The car was a 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer blue four-door with the personalized license plate “JOOGEE.”

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