Wealthy driver whose car allegedly struck, killed two Egyptian American boys seen as trying to skirt justice

Wealthy driver whose car allegedly struck, killed two Egyptian American boys seen as trying to skirt justice
The trial for a driver whose car allegedly struck and killed two young Egyptian American brothers in 2020 is set for March 2023.
4 min read
Washington, D.C.
30 November, 2022
A sign shows an image of Mark Iskander, 11, left, and his brother, Jacob, 8, outside Van Nuys Courthouse, where a preliminary hearing was held in April for Rebecca Grossman, who is charged with murder and other counts. [Getty]

A southern California socialite accused of running over and killing two Egyptian American schoolboys after she and a friend were out drinking in September 2020, is facing growing criticism for what her critics say is exploiting her wealthy status to avoid taking responsibility for her actions.

Two years ago, around six months into the pandemic in the US, when taking a walk outdoors was one of the few activities people could enjoy, Nancy Iskander was out with her four children in Westlake Village, a small city in Los Angeles County, when a car driving at high-speed hit two of her sons after she was able to grab the two closest to her. 

Jacob, 8, and Mark, 11, did not survive the impact, as their mother and siblings watched in disbelief, according to news reports at the time. Their father, Karim Iskander, was out jogging with them and was slightly ahead of the rest of the family.

Since then, Rebecca Grossman, the driver, has been out on US$2 million bail, has asked that the murder charges against her be dropped (a request the judge has denied), and has skipped multiple court appearances. If convicted, Grossman could face up to 34 years in prison.

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"That just shows you how problematic our bail system is," Jenny Roberts, a law professor at American University Washington College of Law, told The New Arab. "Almost all people charged with a crime could not make that kind of bail. Most people can't make any bail."

Roberts, who previously worked as a public defender in New York, notes that many defendants with drug possession charges, including cases where no one is injured, could have a US$500 bail that they are unable to post, often leading them to feel pressure to plead guilty and making it harder to turn down a deal that could speed up their process. On the other hand, defendants who are able to post bail have an easier time fighting for their case.

Grossman, a former flight attendant originally from Texas, is married to Peter Grossman, a celebrity plastic surgeon and burn specialist, whose recent clients include comedian Jay Leno following his car garage accident and the late actress Ann Heche following her fatal car accident. According to news reports, they live in nine-bedroom mansion valued at more than US$7 million.

The Iskanders, who also work in the healthcare sector. News reports describe them as regular people with full-time jobs. According to his social media profiles, Karim Iskander is from Alexandria, Egypt, where he studied pharmacy. 

Since the incident, the couple has reportedly been too distraught to speak with the media. The New Arab reached out to Mr. Iskander, but did not receive a response. Their friend and neighbour, Julie Cohen, has been speaking out on behalf of the family.

"If Grossman didn't have money and connections, she would have been in custody all this time instead of free on bail," The Daily Mail reported her as saying in April following a hearing.

"These continual delays are awful for the family. It’s time she was put behind bars, where she belongs."

In light of the tragedy, the Iskanders have received an outpouring of support, which has included friends and neighbours demonstrating in front of the courthouse wearing T-shirts bearing the pictures of Mark and Jacob. 
Online petitions and crowdfunding campaigns have been circulating to bring awareness to the case.

On Change.org, Mariam Girgis initiated a petition to the Los Angeles District Attorney. 

The petition reads, "Justice must be served, regardless of Grossman’s financial means, status, privilege, and connections," the petition reads.

"We demand that Grossman is prosecuted and sentenced to the fullest extent of the law and that she face serious consequences for her actions that took away the lives of Mark and Jacob. Grossman’s sentence must be proportionate to her crime in order to prevent future similar tragedies, and endangerment of other families and young children."  

A crowdfunding campaign on gofundme.com was created by Andrew Michael with the money going to a charity in honor of Mark and Jacob.

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In addition to criminal charges, Grossman also faces a wrongful death lawsuit by the Iskanders.

Grossman has kept a low profile since the incident, though last week she spoke with Los Angeles Magazine.

The article starts out by saying, "This is not the sort of life Rebecca Grossman was supposed to be living. The 58-year-old former flight attendant turned socialite was meant to be spending her middle years enjoying the bounties of upper-class privilege."

The article goes on to describe the socialite's lavish lifestyle, her fall from grace and being shunned by her community. It is unclear why Grossman chose a lifestyle magazine for her rare news interview. Much of the coverage of the case has focused on the social status of the defendant, with some articles describing her fashion choices for court appearances.

By comparison, there appears to be relatively less coverage of how the death of their children has affected the Iskanders.