001 Street Race Crash
Phillip Thomas News Editor
January 5, 2016
Photos By: CBS LA

On February 26, 2015, Karen Gary Balyan and Street Outlaws participant Israel “Izzy” Valenzuela were involved in a fatal street-racing accident in Chatsworth, California, when Balyan’s Mustang lost control after launching, crossed lanes, and spun into the line of spectators watching the illegal street race.

Both were charged with murder, along with Henry Michael Gevorgyan, who was the starter of the race and friend of Valenzuela. Spectators Eric Siguenza and Wilson Thomas Wong were killed in the accident, and a third spectator was injured but survived.

Balyan, who was the driver of the Mustang that veered into the crowd before fleeing the scene, pleaded no contest to two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and one misdemeanor count of assault with a deadly weapon. He faces 12 years in prison.

Valenzuela, the driver of the Nissan GT-R that Balyan was racing, and a prior participant on the Street Outlaws television show, also pleaded no contest to two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. He faces a year in jail along with five years of probation, and the Nissan GT-R he drove during the accident was destroyed.

Finally, Gevorgyan pleaded no contest to two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. He faces one year of county jail, with three years of probation, and his Ford Mustang, used that night at the street race, was also crushed.

This stands as a sobering reminder of why illegal street racing is wildly dangerous for everyone involved, not just the drivers fighting it out on the blacktop. In the wake of accidents like this, racers have begun to move toward “no-prep” drag-race events like Outlaw Armageddon, which bring the allure of the unprepped surface seen on the street into a safer environment for racers and spectators alike.