Rebecca Grossman’s SUV accelerated to 81 mph before hitting two boys without stopping, witnesses testify.

Rebecca Grossman arrives at Van Nuys Courthouse on the first day of the preliminary hearing on Monday. Grossman is charged with murder in a 2020 Westlake Village accident that killed two young brothers. (Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

Rebecca Grossman was chasing her friend’s SUV and traveling at 81 mph down Westlake Village Road before she fatally hit two young brothers at a crosswalk, witnesses testified Tuesday.

After hitting the boys, throwing one child into the air, she braked for only a second, but did not stop, according to the testimony.

On the second day of a hearing to determine whether Grossman, 58, should stand trial in connection with the deaths of Jacob and Mark Iskander, ages 8 and 11, on September 29, 2020, two eyewitnesses described her SUV driving through a pedestrian crossing on Triunfo. Canyon Road. Around 7:10 pm, the boys were walking with their family and crossed a three-way intersection with a marked pedestrian crossing but no traffic lights.

The crash expert also testified that if Grossman had slowed down from 73 mph (her speed was about 550 feet from the crosswalk) to the posted 45 mph limit, she wouldn’t have hit the kids because they would already be on curb.

“If the car had been speeding for five seconds, there would have been no collision,” said Michael Hale, an experienced accident investigator with the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

He testified that data obtained from Grossman’s Mercedes-Benz showed her stepping on the gas pedal and accelerating to 81 mph about 1.5 seconds before the accident. He said the data showed that she then lightly applied the brakes for a second, slowing to 73 mph and taking her foot off the gas before hitting the boys.

Yasamin Eftekhari described seeing two SUVs in her car’s side mirror as they drove past at high speed and then braked hard right in front of a pedestrian crossing. Grossman’s white Mercedes couldn’t dodge the boys.

“A family was walking along the road. A white car hit two children on the road,” Eftekhari said. She said the car braked right before hitting the boys and then again after the impact.

“The first child who was hit was pinned to his side. [of the road]. I did not see how the second child was beaten,” Eftekhari testified. She said she stopped her car and rushed to the surviving 5-year-old boy at the curb along with his mother, who grabbed him and dived off the road. “I went and got him,” she said, wiping tears from her face.

She said she was trying to distract the boy, Zachary, from the stage. His mother, Nancy Iskander, “was crying and screaming,” Eftekhari testified.

Grossman, 58-year-old co-founder of the Grossman Burn Center with her husband, Dr. Peter Grossman, charged with two counts of murder, two counts of gross negligent manslaughter of a vehicle and one count of driving from the scene resulting in death in connection with the accident. Grossman faces 34 years to life in prison if found guilty. She pleaded not guilty and was released on $2 million bail.

To obtain a guilty verdict for second-degree murder, prosecutors must prove that Grossman acted with implied malice and knew that driving at speeds over 70 miles per hour in a residential area was life threatening. Prosecutors said Grossman’s history of speeding and the warnings she received were a form of notice; she already has two speeding tickets on a nearby freeway a decade ago and the same year on Kanan Road in Malibu.

Emotions ran high again on the second day of the preliminary hearing, with several interruptions when Eftekhari shed tears at the witness stand. “This is one of the toughest cases I’ve ever been involved in,” said Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Shelly Samuels.

Jake Sands, who was sitting in Eftekhari’s front passenger seat, said that Grossman’s Mercedes and the black SUV driven by former Dodger Scott Erickson approached them from behind, “moving fast, over the speed limit, motorway speed, or maybe faster.”

He said that Erickson’s SUV passed them first, switching to the left lane and then Grossman’s white SUV. Sands said they were about three feet apart.

As the SUVs passed, Sands said he saw three boys and their mother at the crosswalk ahead, heading towards the lake. They were rollerblading, skateboarding and scootering.

He said that when the black SUV was the first to pull up to the family, the driver slammed on the brakes. “He deviated and shunned the family right before that,” he testified.

According to Sands, Grossman’s Mercedes 430 GLE was driving immediately behind and the driver “slammed on the brakes” and then drove through the crosswalk.

“I saw one of the boys go to the right,” he said.

Sands said he heard the sound of the crash and saw the boy thrown into the air, Jacob, fall to the ground on the bike path near the right curb.

Sands said he saw another boy, Mark, down the road near the median. According to his testimony, after the impact, the white Mercedes again caught fire with brake lights, but did not stop.

During cross-examination, Grossman’s lawyers repeatedly attempted to portray Erickson’s car as blocking Grossman’s view of the family at the crosswalk ahead.

Grossman’s lawyers argued that she never left the scene and stopped further down the road, but the deputy district attorney did. Attie Ryan Gould repeatedly asked two witnesses to say that she did not stop near the scene.

Eftekhari said that after the boys were hit, Grossman’s SUV braked “for a fraction of a second” but continued down the street.

Hale, an accident expert, said that Grossman’s Mercedes cut off fuel to the engine after an accident, eventually forcing the driver to stop. This fuel cut prevents fire and still allows braking.

On the first day of testimony, Nancy Iskander testified that neither Grossman nor Erickson stopped. “They didn’t stop at the crossroads. They didn’t stop at the crossroads. They didn’t stop when there was an 11-year-old child on the hood of the car… No one stopped,” Iskander said.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.