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2 Good Samaritans electrocuted trying to help car crash victim

As TODAY's Natalie Morales reports, two women were electrocuted to death by water after rushing to help a driver who had slammed his car into a fire hydrant and utility pole in California. One witness, James Pike, describes the horrific scene.

Two women were electrocuted Wednesday after trying to help the victims of a car accident in Los Angeles, fire department officials said.

The women, who have not been identified, were apparently responding separately to the scene of a crash in Valley Village in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles., where a vehicle slammed into a fire hydrant and a light pole which knocked down a power line around 8:30 p.m.

Rick Mcclure / AP

Los Angeles fire captain Cristian Granucci examines the wreckage of a car as water from a fire hydrant sits gushes out behind it after the crash.

The SUV came to a stop about 10 feet away from the fire hydrant, which burst, shooting water two stories into the air, witnesses said. The gushing water quickly pooled underneath the vehicle where the damaged light pole left electrical wires sticking out of the ground.

Fire department officials said the wires were disguised by the darkness, the running water and the growing number of startled neighbors and passing drivers who came running to help. Unbeknownst to the first people who tried to help the victim of the crash, an adult male, the water was electrified.


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A woman who lived in a nearby home rushed out to the scene and stepped into the electrified water and was electrocuted.

A husband and wife who were driving by also stopped and rushed to help. That woman was also electrocuted.  Her husband suffered only minor injuries.

Rick Mcclure / AP

Firefighters and paramedics examine two of the eight victims who were shocked after attempting to aid a car crash victim as water gushes from the fire hyrdant.

“I came running out and I saw the car and I saw the water, and then all of the sudden I saw a lady come out of nowhere,” a witness, Christie Vergini, told Fox LA. “She walked, stepped in the water, fell back on her back with her arms straight out, and then I ran back to the house to get my mom and came back. There was a huge crowd of people. Another lady supposedly was reaching in to help her got shocked too, and they were trying to help her and everybody was like stand back, don’t touch the water."

“Everybody panicking because they couldn’t help the woman on the ground because of the live wire,” another witness, Liz Casmier told Fox LA.” I mean, it was obvious she needed aid, but nobody could do anything because of the live wire in the water. It was horrifying.”

Five others, ranging in ages from 19 to 57, followed and were electrically shocked, fire department officials said.

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“I run outside, and across the street I see two women laying on the sidewalk,” a witness, James Pike, told NBCLosAngeles.com. “I see two or three young gentlemen keep trying to rescue them and pull them to safety and each time they would try to pull them there were getting shocked.”

When Los Angeles firefighters arrived to the scene, they used rubber gloves and a long pole to pull the two women, who lay motionless on the ground, from the water. Seven of the eight victims were taken to an area hospital, where the two women were pronounced dead. One of the victims who suffered minor injuries declined to be taken to the hospital.  

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An aerial view of the accident in Los Angeles which killed two people.

In total, 55 additional firefighters were dispatched to the scene, who secured the area and treated victims.

The Department of Water and Power shut off the water supply to the fire hydrant and electricity to the power lines. Investigators from the LAPD Valley Traffic Division said excessive speed was likely a factor of the car accident. Alcohol was not believe to be involved.

“This tragic accident, in some ways can serve as a warning,” Los Angeles Fire Department Spokesman Erik Scott said. “Many people, with nothing but the best intentions, were injured and killed while trying to save others. This reminds all who want to help at the scene of an emergency to stay aware of their surroundings, and if there is any question as to safety, please wait for trained rescuers to arrive.”

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