It was an unbelievable way to leave the Earth: thrust out of a car and into the air on a Los Angeles freeway, only to land atop a freeway sign. But the oddity of the death of Richard Pananian of Burbank didn't begin and end with that Friday morning accident. The Los Angeles Times reports that just five days before the 20-year-old was killed, his family, worried about his health and well-being, performed a lamb sacrifice in a move designed to bestow God's protection on him. Cousin Armen Kardashian tells the Times Pananian had tackled some significant but unspecified health issues, and on a GoFundMe page started to cover funeral expenses and provide financial support for Pananian's parents, Kardashian shares the "ironic backstory."
On Oct. 25 the family did the matagh—which he describes as an offering typical in the Armenian culture "when someone escapes death, as Richard's life was once spared"—to "protect him from harm and evil." What happened five days later "has crushed this family as a whole." Kardashian writes that his cousin "loved to work on, with, around cars" and never failed to fasten the five-point safety harness he had installed on the driver's side. Kardashian says Pananian was en route to a new job when the accident occurred on the 5 Freeway. The highway patrol received reports of a Ford Fiesta—Pananian's car—driving recklessly around 7am local time. Pananian wasn't wearing his seat belt, and was thrown from the car after colliding with a pickup. (In another car accident tragedy, a woman's husband and child were killed—and she lost all memory of them.)