LOS ANGELES – The elderly man who plowed his car through an outdoor market, killing 10 people, made his first public comment Sunday, saying "my heart is broken over the extent of the tragedy."
Russell Weller released the statement the day two victims, a woman and her 7-month-old grandson, were buried. Hundreds sobbed and wailed as Molok Ghoulian Nabatian, 63, and Brendon Davidi Esfahani were buried at a memorial park in Mission Hills.
Some mourners expressed anger at the 86-year-old Weller and said elderly people should have to take road tests to renew their licenses.
"They should take his driver's license away," said Rami Zar, 37, of Beverly Hills (search). "People are angry about the whole thing. Innocent lives were just taken."
Witnesses said Weller's car sped down the length of the open-air Santa Monica (search) Farmers Market on Wednesday, injuring dozens of people. The 10 dead ranged in age from 7 months to 78 years.
The market reopened Saturday, but at least 11 people remained hospitalized, three in critical condition.
Weller, 86, released his statement through his pastor, the Rev. Stephen C. Lien of Brentwood Presbyterian Church (search), where Weller and his wife have been congregants for more than 30 years.
"There are no words to express the feelings my family and I have for those who suffered loss and pain as a result of Wednesday's devastating accident. I am so very distraught, and my heart is broken over the extent of the tragedy," the brief statement said.
Police are investigating whether Weller may have hit a Mercedes before the disaster, then sped toward the market while leaving the scene of that collision.
Police have said Weller told them he didn't realize until too late that Arizona Avenue was closed to traffic. They also said Weller believes he might have hit the gas instead of the brake as he tried to stop.
"After the accident, I called pastor Lien to ask for prayers that might help bring comfort and solace to all who have been touched by this horrible event," Weller said in the statement. "I continue my own prayers for all those who are suffering and grieving during this very difficult time."
In Mission Hills, hundreds of relatives and mourners from the close Iranian-American community gathered for the funeral of Nabatian and her grandson. At the grave site, mourners said Hebrew prayers and scattered flowers and spices.
Stella Ahdoot, 17, of Rockville, Md., told the mourners that her grandmother always encouraged her to pursue her dreams.
"She taught me to love everyone, no matter what ... She also loved Brendon," Ahdoot said, sobbing. "She would hug and kiss him a hundred times and her eyes would light up."
"To lose your mom and to lose your child at the same time is just unbelievable," said Alaleh Kamran of Encino, a friend of Brendon's parents.
Some mourners said they were angry at Weller but didn't believe he should be prosecuted.
"I have mixed feelings because if this person did have other accidents, I think he was reckless," said Claudine Ashvar, 36, of North Hollywood. "However, I also understand ... in this city, if you don't have a car, you are dead."