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`2 FAST' MOVIE CITED IN DEATH OF RETIREE.

Byline: Dana Bartholomew Staff Writer

GRANADA HILLS - A 78-year-old retiree was killed in a high-speed crash caused by a motorist who had just seen the new street-racing film ``2 Fast 2 Furious,'' authorities said Monday.

Vahan V. Shahenian, 23, of Granada Hills had just watched the blockbuster movie Sunday when he gunned his Nissan Altima to nearly 100 mph on a residential street and broadsided a car driven by Keiji Iko, who died instantly, police said.

``This is `2 Fast 2 Furious' right here in the Valley,'' said Detective Kathleen Burns of the Valley Traffic Division, an investigator in the crash. ``I have no doubt he was speeding.''

The original movie, ``The Fast and the Furious,'' was blamed by police for an increase in street racing shortly after its release in 2002.

Following a citywide crackdown on illicit street racing and spectators, LAPD Capt. Greg Meyer, head of the Valley Traffic Division, deployed extra officers around select theaters for Friday's debut of ``2 Fast 2 Furious.''

Police arrested one man Friday and confiscated his car at Pacific Winnetka 21 for exhibition of speed in the parking lot, Meyer said. Similar arrests occurred in North Hollywood.

Also Friday, the Los Angeles City Council passed a measure permitting police to permanently confiscate and sell cars used in street races.

``We're doing our best to do something about this street-racing problem,'' Meyer said. ``The message is still the same: Speeding is the major cause of serious collisions in the Valley.''

Sunday's crash occurred at 4:35 p.m., when Shahenian, driving a 2002 Altima eastbound on Rinaldi Street between 90 and 100 mph, struck Iko's 1993 Toyota Camry as he turned left at Hayvenhurst Avenue, police said. There was no evidence that Shahenian was racing another car.

Iko, a retired engineer from Litton Industries, was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

Shahenian was taken to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center for treatment of a broken arm. A passenger in his car was being treated for internal injuries.

Shahenian told police he had been driving the speed limit. He could not be reached Monday for comment.

At Iko's tidy hilltop Granada Hills home, family members gathered while friends passed pink roses to those bringing offerings of food.

A second generation Japanese-American interned during World War II, Iko was an avid golfer who had lived in the Valley more than 40 years. He was also a member of the San Fernando Valley Japanese-American Community Center in Pacoima.

Prior to his death, his family had been preparing for a Father's Day on the green and a large family wedding for one of three daughters.

Iko is survived by his wife, Joanne; his son Jeff of Sierra Madre; and his daughters Julie of Santa Monica, Sue of Redondo Beach and Christine of Los Angeles.

``It's horrific; everybody is just shocked,'' said Tony Caruso, 39, of Santa Monica, speaking on behalf of the family. ``It's just tough.

``He was just a very gentle man without a bad thing to say about anybody.''

Dana Bartholomew, (818) 713-3730

dana.bartholomew(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 10, 2003
Words:514
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