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Driver is critical after crash, fall into river

Woman, not wearing seat belt, was ejected from her Mercedes. Rescuers found her in two feet of water.

December 23, 2006|By Jason Wells

LOS ANGELES — A 31-year-old Burbank woman was seriously injured when she fell 50 feet into the Los Angeles River after she was ejected from her vehicle Friday morning. The incident occurred after a collision on the Colorado Street interchange near the Golden State (5) Freeway.

California Highway Patrol Officer Robert Maldonado said the woman, whose name was being withheld, was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital via ambulance where she was described as being in critical condition Friday afternoon.

The woman lost control of her Mercedes sedan while exiting eastbound off the freeway at an unknown rate of speed, crossed over a raised median and was struck on the passenger side by a westbound delivery truck shortly before 8 a.m., CHP Officer Derrick Peterson said on scene.

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The woman's car then hit the bridge's railing, which is when she was ejected from her vehicle, he said.

Peterson confirmed that the woman was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.

Emergency workers for Los Angeles and Glendale City Fire Departments hoisted the woman back onto the bridge after finding her unconscious in two feet of water, Peterson said.

"It's still under investigation and everything is still preliminary," Peterson said.

The driver of the delivery truck, Bill Neilan, said the woman seemed to be driving "pretty fast" as she lost control on the curve.

"I heard her brakes squeal," he said. "It happened so fast. There was nothing I could do."

The front end of Neilan's truck was smashed in as it sat parked slightly ahead of the woman's car, which was completely caved in on the passenger side.

Neilan, who sustained only minor neck injuries, said he was transporting a few boxes in his truck's cargo area, but at no substantial added weight.

Immediately after the accident, Neilan said he and another witness who had been driving behind him called 911, then exited their vehicles in search of the woman.

"There was somebody down there, but I couldn't tell if they were alive," he said. "They weren't moving."

There were no other passengers in the car, CHP officers said.

"I just hope that person is OK, especially at this time of year," Neilan said.


  • JASON WELLS is a reporter for the Glendale News-Press. He may be reached at (818) 637-3232.

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