“…There are cars in front of me and i can’t stop…”
Terrified Driver Employs Sheriffs’ Help
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s dispatcher (Law Enforcement Technician) Richard Engersbach of the Crescenta Valley Station is credited with avoiding a potentially disastrous situation yesterday when a call came in from a woman whose car allegedly had a stuck accelerator.
According to a release by the sheriff’s department, it was at 10:55 a.m. on Monday morning that Engersbach received a forwarded 911 call from the woman who was driving in her car on Foothill Boulevard in La Cañada Flintridge. She had passed Angeles Crest Highway and was approaching Sports Chalet Drive.
She said her car’s accelerator was stuck, forcing her vehicle to move at approximately 20-25 miles per hour, preventing her from stopping. Sobbing, she said over 9-1-1 “…There are cars in front of me and I can’t stop…”
The 40-year old mom from Sunland was driving a Ford Escort with her 5y-year-old daughter in the back seat. Considering the circumstances, the woman remained as calm as possible but did not know how to stop the car. She was getting more upset because she was approaching a red light and her vehicle would not stop.
Engersbach talked calmly to her on the phone while typing in a call to patrol deputies about the emergency. He asked her to check her brakes, then told her to put the car in neutral and turn off the engine. Although audibly shaken and upset, she followed his instructions. The car began to slow down and the vehicle engine died. Her car finally came to a stop before she reached the intersection.
These actions likely prevented a serious traffic collision and possibly serious injuries or even death to the caller and her child.
“I was shocked when I first got the call,” stated Engersbach. “Knowing that a child was in the car made it that much more urgent that the car be stopped. I remembered that recently we had another runaway car incident, and that a deputy had to get in front of that car at a high rate of speed to block and stop it, so while talking to her I was also sending patrol cars to help.
“I am really glad everyone is okay.”
The Sheriff’s Dept. has issued the following instruction on how to stop a car if the accelerator pedal sticks or is blocked:
*If the pedal starts to feel sticky but isn’t yet stuck, stop driving and call a dealer to arrange for your vehicle to be picked up. But if the pedal is stuck in a depressed position, here is what a driver can do:
*Shift the transmission to neutral
*Turn off the ignition switch
*Apply the brakes and pull over
*With the engine cut off, you will lose some power steering assist, but you should still be able to steer the vehicle to a safe stopping position.