Within minutes, the sleek, blue-green sports car was a blackened wreck, the three people inside dead. Police said the speeding car went out of control, sheared several trees, then hit a gas line and burst into flames.
The victims of the Sunday crash were so unrecognizable that two days later, the coroner still had two of the three listed as a Jane Doe and a John Doe.
"They were burned very badly, so we've got to do dental records and X-rays," assistant chief coroner Ed Winter said Tuesday.
Only passenger Jason Shmelnik, who was in his 20s, had been officially identified. But a friend who was cleaning a
The friend, Violetta Vlasova, said scores of people have come every night since the crash.
"We just sit here and remember the good times," she said.
People came from San Francisco, where Shmelnik has family, to be at the site Sunday night. Vlasova said many members of the area's Russian community have come out to remember Volodkovich, who came to the United States from Russia about six years ago.
Reno's, the pizza parlor the car crashed into, will likely be closed for weeks. Its sign about 20 feet in the air was partly melted, showing how high the flames reached. A palm tree also was scorched.
Detectives from the Los Angeles police Valley Traffic Division were still investigating. Bill Bustos, the division's head of detectives, said they were looking into whether Volodkovich had been drinking.
The three had been at a woman's 21st birthday party at a restaurant that Bustos would not identify and were headed to one of their homes.
A man identifying himself as a friend told KTLA-TV (Channel 5) he wished he had stopped Volodkovich from driving that
Vlasova said she didn't know whether her friend was drunk, and she said she was frustrated by rumors and falsehoods spreading online about the victims and about what happened.
"I don't know because I wasn't there," she said.
One thing was clear: Speed killed.
Police had not done an accident reconstruction to estimate the speed, but Bustos said the car was going "much, much faster" than the 35-mph limit on the stretch of road.
The car was a BMW 650i, a car that now costs more than $90,000 new. Even a used 2007 model like Volodkovich's is about $40,000.
Shmelnik, a ballroom dancer, appeared on "Dancing With the Stars" in 2007. Volodkovich owned his own business.
"Pavel always made people laugh and always wanted people to be happy," Vlasova said.
People who knew Botvinieva could not be reached.
At the site of the crash, people had left flowers, candles, framed photos, a card. And messages, some in Russian, were written on the plywood that covered a window.
One message that used Volodkovich's nickname read, "I love you Pash. Spokoyoynochi."
That appeared to be a version of the Russian "Spokoynoy nochi," or "Good night."