Highway 50 accident victim identified | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Highway 50 accident victim identified

William Ferchland


A 34-year-old Belmont woman has been identified as the lone fatality in a five-car crash on Highway 50 west of Strawberry Lodge.

Tailen Sossikian was killed when her Toyota Highlander clipped an Acura SUV she was attempting to pass, causing her car to rear-end a Chevy Impala and turn 180 degrees into oncoming traffic in a March 12 accident, said California Highway Patrol Officer Craig Beckley. Sossikian was passing illegally over a double-yellow line, Beckley said.

The four people, including two children, in the Acura MDX were not injured when the Highlander clipped its left side-view mirror, Beckley said.

Spotting a Lincoln Navigator traveling toward her in the eastbound lane, Sossikian swerved back into the westbound lane, rear-ending the Impala and causing her airbag to deploy, Beckley said.

The impact with the 2006 Impala also caused the Highlander to turn 180 degrees clockwise into the eastbound lane, Beckley said. With the Highlander backward and its airbag already deployed, there was little protection for Sossikian when she collided with the Navigator.

Louis Grijalva, a 69-year-old from San Jose driving the Navigator, was transported by a CALSTAR helicopter to Sutter Roseville for care to fractured ribs and an injured left leg, Beckley said. Grijalva’s wife, Gloria, suffered a fractured sternum and broken ribs.

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Two adults in the Impala were also hospitalized. The driver, Tan Pham, suffered a concussion and neck pain while a passenger had pain to her head, jaw and back, Beckley said.

An 8-month-old child in a car seat was not injured.

A fifth car was damaged from flying debris caused by the collision between the Highlander and Navigator, Beckley said.

The highway was closed for more than two hours, clogging the thoroughfare as it was heavy with visitors leaving South Lake Tahoe on a Sunday afternoon. There was no evidence Sossikian was drinking.

In other news:

— About $4,000 was stolen when a black purse sitting on the floor near the “Price is Right” slot machines of Harrah’s Lake Tahoe disappeared on March 13, a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy reported.

James Brothers, a 42-year-old from South Lake Tahoe, was arrested on a litany of charges and booked into Douglas County Jail in lieu of $85,000 bail when casino security spotted the man who fit the description of the thief.

Five credit cards and other property from the purse were found in Brothers’ pockets, said Sgt. Tom Mezzetta.

The owner of the purse left the slot machines, and her purse, near the escalator to Harvey’s Resort and Casino for 10 minutes, the deputy reported. When she returned, the purse and the $3,900 inside were gone.

Casino surveillance video showed a bearded man wearing glasses, a green Army jacket and jeans wandering in the area. The man also had a pony tail and bad teeth, the deputy reported.

Brothers was arrested in Bill’s Casino on charges including suspicion of possession of stolen property, burglary, fraudulent use of a credit card and grand larceny.