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Second Annual Memorial Run Honors BHHS Drunk Driving Victim

Vahagn Setian was a BHHS junior when he died as a passenger in a drunk driving crash.

More than 150 people braved Sunday's rain for the memorial 5K run/walk honoring the sixth anniversary of the death of Beverly Hills High School junior Vahagn Setian, and to raise money and awareness for the foundation created in his name.

Members of the Beverly Hills Police Department and the Beverly Hills Fire Department participated, as did City Council members, BHHS students and alumni, and dozens of other supporters.

"It was a wonderful effort by the community, schools, and police and fire departments to unite for a good cause," said resident Stacey Raskin, whose son Dean was a close friend of Vahagn.

The victim was 17 when he and two 15-year-old females were riding in a Land Rover driven by actor Lane Garrison, who crashed the car into a tree, seriously injuring one of the girls and killing Vahagn. Garrison’s blood alcohol level at the time of the accident was twice the legal limit.

"[The accident] was one of those things that you never forget," said BHPD motor officer Matt Thurman, one of the first responders to the scene. Thurman helped found the memorial run along with fellow officer Tyler Blondi and Karen Setian, Vahagn's father.

The officers said they expect the run to be an annual event going forward.

Several students who had attended Hawthorne School and BHHS with Vahagn participated in the race.

"Vahagn had a huge impact in life and in death," said Michelle Partielli, 22, who knew Vahagn since they were in kindergarten together.

The gathering place before and after the walk, as well as the check-in booth, was at the “boat court” below the BHPD in Civic Center Plaza. Participation was free of charge, with donations welcome.

The run was sponsored in part by The Peninsula Hotel, Wells Fargo Bank, Montessori Children's World and Porsche Design. Leon's Fine Jewelry of Beverly Hills donated three watches worth $750 each to give to the first three racers to cross the finish line.

For more information about the Vahagn Foundation, contact Karén Setian at ksetian@VahagnFoundation.org.

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