Police investigate student’s intent in fatal crash

The Associated Press
Monday February 26, 2001


SANTA BARBARA — Authorities are investigating whether a University of California, Santa Barbara freshman intentionally drove his car into a crowd of people, killing four and wounding a fifth. 

David Edward Attias, 18, is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Santa Barbara Superior Court on charges stemming from the Friday crash. He was being held Sunday without bail in the Santa Barbara County Jail after being booked for investigation of felony drunk driving and vehicular homicide. 

Witnesses told police they saw Attias speed down a crowded street in the university community of Isla Vista late Friday, traveling between 60 and 65 mph. Attias sideswiped nine parked cars and struck five people walking along the street. 

“I heard a car gun its accelerator and then I just heard boom! boom! boom!” UCSB student Daniel Conway told KABC-TV. 

At the scene of the accident, Attias allegedly shouted, “I am the Angel of Death,” multiple witnesses told police. 

“We are investigating the potential that it was an intentional act,” said Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Burridge. Burridge added that Attias allegedly attempted to fight off bystanders who sought to detain him after the 11:08 p.m. crash. 

Killed in the crash were Nicholas Shaw Bourdakis and Christopher Edward Divis, both 20 and UCSB students; Ruth Dasha Golda Levy, 20, a Santa Barbara City College student; and Elie Israel, 27, of San Francisco. 

Levy’s older brother, Albert Arthur Levy, 27, remained in critical condition Sunday after undergoing multiple surgeries. 

Albert Levy was in town from San Francisco, where he lived with Israel, to visit his sister, Burridge said. 

Attias suffered only minor cuts and scratches in the crash, which totaled the black Saab he was driving. 

Investigators must wait as long as a week for the results of blood tests to determine if Attias was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash, Burridge said. 

On Sunday, bouquets of flowers lay on the street where the crash occurred, a spokeswoman for the 19,000-student university said. Plans for a campus memorial service were still being organized Sunday. 

“This terrible tragedy leaves all members of our university family stunned and saddened and our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this terrible accident,” said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. 

Attias has the same Santa Monica address as Daniel Attias, a Hollywood television director who has worked on “Ally McBeal” and “The Sopranos,” the Los Angeles Times reported. 

“We have no comment except for the terrible grief we feel for all the families involved,” Daniel Attias told the Times.