Year in Review: A year of tragedy and triumph
It was a year of surprises as local events often turned into national news.
President Barack Obama presents the 2012 National Teacher of the Year award to Rebecca Mieliwocki, who teaches at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank, Calif., during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak / April 24, 2012)
The year 2012 was full of twists and turns, surprise and tragedy. Here's a look back at some of the top stories that reverberated throughout the community, and far beyond.
Woman electrocuted trying to help motorist
A 40-year-old Burbank woman was one of two Good Samaritans who were electrocuted Aug. 22 after trying to help a motorist trapped inside his vehicle after a crash in Valley Village.
Irma Zamora and Stacey Schreiber, 39, of Valley Village were electrocuted when they tried to render aid to 19-year-old Arman Samsonian, who crashed into a light pole and fire hydrant, officials said.
Samsonian was allegedly driving at a high rate of speed on Magnolia Boulevard when he lost control of his SUV and crashed into the pole and hydrant at Ben Avenue in Valley Village, officials said.
Schreiber and Zamora stepped into the spewing hydrant water that had been energized with 4,800 volts of electricity from fallen power lines and were electrocuted. Rescue crews had to use a 6-foot pole with hooks and a handle to retrieve the women.
In all, six people, including a Los Angeles police officer and the driver, were injured from electrical shock.
Samsonian pleaded not guilty in November to two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence for the women's death. Zamora's son, meanwhile, described her as brave, heroic and “always trying to help someone.”
“The fact that my mom died being a hero, I am just so proud of her,” the son, David Aguilar, said.
Bob Hope Airport hits financial turbulence
The Bob Hope Airport struggled throughout the year with declining passenger numbers and parking revenues following the unexpected departure of American Airlines in February.
Airfield officials were caught by surprise in October when the number of passengers for September tumbled by 10% compared to the year prior and parking revenues declined 9.7%, dropping to $1.5 million from the $1.67 million logged in September 2011.
For fiscal year 2012, the airport managed to squeak ahead of expectations, taking in just $4,677 more than what was projected, according to a report released in October.
The report, though, showed that parking revenues, which traditionally make up about 40% of the airfield's total revenues, came in at $732,196 under budget — a 3.8% decrease from what was projected.
The airport was also hit with more bad news when Jet Blue announced that it was halting its daytime flights out of Burbank. Only one nighttime flight to JFK International Airport in New York City will remain.
The airport is trying to bolster parking revenues for the rest of fiscal year 2013 by increasing fees in all of its lots except Lot A, which will remain at $10 a day.
Residents, chapel duel over cell tower
Residents living near the Little White Chapel were successful in keeping a wireless telecommunications facility out of their neighborhood after the Burbank City Council blocked the project.