By Mary O’KEEFE
It is a driver’s nightmare – deploy the brake and nothing happens. That is exactly what happened to a woman in La Crescenta on Sept. 21. Luckily, due to the quick actions of a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy, a tragedy was averted.
Deputy Marcelo Ruiz and his partner Reserve Deputy Alfred Danelian were driving eastbound on Foothill Boulevard when they noticed a woman driving erratically.
“She was driving eastbound on Foothill Boulevard and went to turn southbound on Pennsylvania. She was on the wrong side of the intersection,” Ruiz said.
The woman continued traveling southbound on Pennsylvania Avenue. The deputy activated his patrol unit’s lights and followed.
“We tried to catch up with her and she was frantically waving and saying she lost her brakes,” Ruiz said. “I [indicated] for her to use her hand brake.”
The hand brake did not work. The traffic was heavy which made it difficult for Ruiz to maneuver.
“You could hear her stomping on the brake pedal [on the floor] and hear her trying the hand brake,” Ruiz said. “She was gaining speed … I could see her face. She was scared.”
Ruiz later found the woman had realized she had lost her brakes near the Bank of America in the 3100 block of Foothill.
“She said she [pushed on the] brakes and heard a snap,” he said.
She continued southbound on Pennsylvania Avenue through a red light at Altura Avenue and a red light at the east and west entrance onto the Foothill (210) Freeway. She also traveled through a red light at Montrose Avenue. At each light she avoided a collision although at one point she came very close to a delivery truck, Ruiz said.
The deputy was finally able to get in front of the woman’s vehicle.
“The whole time I was planning on what I was going to do,” he said.
Ruiz pulled alongside the woman’s car and motioned for her to get into the number one lane. He then maneuvered his patrol unit in front of her car.
“I matched her speed then started slowing her down,” he said.
The woman’s car hit the patrol unit, slightly, slowed down and eased to a stop near Mills and Pennsylvania avenues.
When asked what the woman’s first words were when her car was stopped Ruiz said, “God bless you. Then she felt bad because there were scratches on the patrol car.”