Mother testifies about 2020 Westlake Village crash that killed two sons
Nancy Iskander has relived the night her two children died in front of her more times than she can remember.
“I still see it every night. It haunts me every night,” Iskander said.
More than 18 months after a hit-and-run accident killed his 11-year-old son Mark and 8-year-old son Jacob, Iskander appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday to give evidence at the hearing preliminary of the case.
The hearing before Judge Shellie Samuels focused on whether the alleged driver of the accident, Hidden Hills resident Rebecca Grossman, 58, should be brought to trial on the charges. She is currently charged with two counts of murder and faces a maximum sentence of 34 years to life in prison if convictedaccording to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Grossman is co-founder of the Grossman Burn Foundation and daughter-in-law of Dr. A. Richard Grossman, founder of the Grossman Burn Centers, which treat burns patients at three facilities in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and Kansas City, Missouri. Her husband, Dr. Peter Grossman, is also a plastic surgeon.
The accident happened on the evening of September 29, 2020, along Triunfo Canyon Road at the intersection with Saddle Mountain Drive in Westlake Village.
Iskander recalled that the night began as a regular family outing in their community.
The family of six left their home in the Three Springs neighborhood and headed south on Triunfo Canyon Road, she said on the stand at the Van Nuys courthouse. Her husband, Karim Iskander, jogged, carrying their youngest child, Violet.
Nancy Iskander was grouped with her three sons – she and Jacob were on roller skates, Mark was riding a skateboard and Zachary, 5, rode his scooter.
“It was the pandemic. Jacob and Zachary were locked up all day and wanted to get some fresh air,” the mother-of-four said.
As they approached the intersection with Saddle Mountain Drive, Iskander and his son Mark hit on the idea of crossing the road for a view of Westlake Lake. Her husband and daughter had already gone ahead on Triunfo Canyon, but Nancy Iskander and her three sons stopped at the marked crosswalk.
Iskander said she waited for the road to clear before she started crossing. She led with Zachary at her side while Jacob and Mark followed half a pace behind her. The street has two lanes of traffic and bike lanes on either side, plus a dividing median, and they were only halfway through when she noticed a loud noise.
“I heard the engines of two SUVs coming towards us at crazy speeds,” Iskander said.
She said she looked up to see two vehicles, one black and one white, zigzagging between the lanes as they approached the crosswalk heading north. Iskander raised her hand to indicate they were crossing, but when the black car approached the intersection first, she quickly realized the car wasn’t going to stop.
Iskander said she grabbed Zachary and threw him to the sidewalk before jumping out of the way herself. The driver of the black car has since been charged with misdemeanor reckless driving and his case remains pending.
After the first car passed, the second vehicle, a white Mercedes GLE 43, crossed the pedestrian crossing.
“I heard a very loud noise, looked back and felt or saw the other car accelerate as well,” Iskander said. “I realized something had happened to Mark and Jacob.”
When she turned around, she saw Jacob lying on the pavement “like he was sleeping”, but Mark was nowhere to be found. He was eventually found on the pavement, his skateboard broken and his shoes peeling off. Both children were pronounced dead that night.
Iskander ended his testimony by saying the whole incident was a hit and run.
“Did anyone return to the scene indicating that he was the driver of these cars?” asked Ryan Gould, the prosecutor handling the case.
“No sir,” Iskander replied.
After her testimony was completed, Iskander was cross-examined by Grossman’s attorney, Alan Eisner. For more than an hour, Eisner asked Iskander if she saw her children hit by Grossman’s car, as well as the distance between them after she pulled away from the black SUV, though Iskander mostly said that she didn’t remember.
After Iskander’s testimony, four other witnesses were called to the stand. Royce Clayton, an acquaintance of Grossman who was with her at Julio’s Agave Grill in Westlake Village just before the crash, testified afterwards.
Clayton said he saw Grossman drinking a margarita at the restaurant, but he did not join her when she went to a residence to watch the 2020 presidential debate.
Three deputies from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department spoke at the time: Deputy Jason McGee, who responded to the accident and accompanied Grossman to his blood test at a hospital; Deputy Todd Cash, who issued Grossman a speeding ticket on May 8, 2020, along Kanan Dume Road in Malibu; and finally Deputy Richard Curry, who was tasked with retrieving crash information recorded by the event data recorder from Grossman’s vehicle on October 6, 2020.
The hearing continued until Tuesday morning with at least half a dozen additional witnesses expected. The hearing will end with Samuels determining whether to go ahead with the trial of the criminal case or dismiss the charges.
Jeremy Childs is a breaking news and public safety reporter who covers the Ventura County Star’s night shift. He can be reached by calling 805-437-0208 or emailing [email protected] You can also find him on Twitter @Jeremy_Childs.
This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Nancy Iskander testifies at Rebecca Grossman Westlake accident hearing