Woman found dead after car swerves off La Cañada road
Ron Mizrahi points to the bottom of a canyon near his family home off Earlmont Avenue, where a car driven by a 76-year-old La Cañada woman landed Wednesday afternoon, killing the driver. Several witnesses said they saw the Mercedes barrel down Jarvis Avenue onto Earlmont and veer off into the front yard of the Mizrahi family home before careening off a cliff's edge into the draw below. (Photo by Sara Cardine / August 21, 2014)
Several witnesses, including the homeowner and his son, saw the incident and immediately went to assist the driver, but she was dead by the time they arrived.
Witness Ron Mizrahi was with his father, Bernie Mizrahi, in the living room of the family home shortly after 3 p.m. when they were alerted by the sound of screeching tires. They saw a Mercedes barrel through the front yard at a high speed, headed toward the horseshoe canyon just east of the property.
“She went by so fast,” Ron Mizrahi said Thursday morning. “I came running out, thinking we were going to find a car wrapped around a tree. There was nothing — it was silent.”
He explained the car had glanced off his red pickup truck, which was parked in the driveway, and was redirected away from the house toward the steep cliff. Traveling swiftly, it flew over a low brick wall and flipped in mid-air before landing, right-side up, in the wedge of the canyon bottom.
The Mizrahis and several neighbors called 911 to report the incident. At 3:13 p.m., the call was dispatched to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Crescenta Valley station, Lt. Bill Jaeger said Thursday morning.
“The basic witness statements say she was possibly unconscious prior to veering off the road,” Jaeger added.
Neighbor Deborah Pitts said her children were walking home from nearby Palm Crest Elementary when they spotted the Mercedes driving erratically and at high speeds down Jarvis.
“My son said it was like a worm wiggling back and forth,” Pitts said, pointing to a nearby stop sign. “She just blasted right through.”
The sheriff’s department and Los Angeles County Fire Department responded within minutes. The woman’s body was retrieved from the wreckage by members of the Montrose Search and Rescue Team, the neighbors reported, while the car was pulled up from the canyon and into the street by a tow truck.
Immediately after the crash, Ron Mizrahi said he and another unidentified witness ran to the car to aid the driver. They took her pulse, but she’d already died. Ron Mizrahi said he noticed obvious injuries to the back of her head.
Because of the fatality, responding agencies marked the area as a crime scene and were present until about 9 p.m., Bernie Mizrahi said.
As of noon Thursday, the sheriff’s department was investigating whether any vehicle malfunction may have caused the accident, while the coroner’s office was trying to determine whether a medical condition might have played a role in the driver’s death, Jaeger reported.
“It could take weeks to piece it all together,” he said.
Bernie Mizrahi said the victim’s husband came to the house after being notified of the accident.
He said his 76-year-old wife was likely returning to their Alta Canyada Road home after a bridge game with friends up the street, and that he’d been shopping at Ralphs market when he saw three fire engines racing west on Foothill Boulevard.
“He never dreamed they were going to his wife,” Bernie Mizrahi said. “He said she was a diabetic and could have had a low sugar count and passed out.”