Janet Nabatian tried to answer her cellphone at the busy Santa Monica Farmers' Market July 16 at about 1:30 p.m., but the reception was so weak that she had to walk a few steps away from her mother and 7-month-old son to get better reception.
Nabatian, 32, was at the market with her child and 63-year-old mother to buy food for Shabbat. The phone call from her sister in Washington, D.C., saved her life.
Moments later, Nabatian turned her head and saw a speeding red Buick smash into her mother and the baby carriage. Nabatian stared in shock as she saw her mother, Molok Ghoulian, roll over on the ground and her son, Brandon David Esfahani, tossed into the air.
Ghoulian was killed on the spot. The baby was rushed to Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and later transferred to UCLA Medical Center, where he died a day later from brain injuries.
Ghoulian and Brandon, members of the Persian Jewish community, were two of the 10 people killed by 86-year-old driver George Russell Weller, who lost control of his car. As of press time, Santa Monica Police had not decided on what action to take in the case.
Soroya Nazarian learned about hereditary inclusion body myopathy (HIBM), an uncommon muscular disorder that affects the Persian Jewish community, while in Israel on a Hadassah mission about five years ago. There, she met professor Zohar Argov, from the department of neurology at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem, the researcher who first discovered the rare disease in 1984. Although Nazarian did not know anyone personally affected with HIBM, the self-described "professional volunteer" knew her involvement with Hadassah Southern California put her in a unique position to increase awareness and raise funds for the condition that seemed to unfairly target her community.