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911 tape: Dispatcher helps distraught driver stop runaway car

October 18, 2011 | 12:39 pm

Dispatcher Richard Engersbach

Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials have released the 911 tape of a dispatcher helping a distraught driver stop her runaway car as it approached an intersection with a red light.

In the tape from the Monday morning incident, the woman, a 40-year-old Sunland mother, explains that her 5-year-old daughter is with her in the car, which had a stuck accelerator and was going 20 to 25 mph.

"There are cars in front of me and I can't stop," she says.

Listen: 911 dispatcher helps driver stop runaway car

Dispatcher Richard Engersbach gently instructs her to put the car in neutral and turn off the ignition. The car stopped before reaching the intersection when she followed his instructions.

"OK, it died," she says, with relief and a sob.

 "I was shocked when I first got the call," said Engersbach, according to a sheriff’s report.

"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," he said. "So while talking to her I was also sending patrol cars to help. I am really glad everyone is OK."

Sheriff’s officials say that if an accelerator pedal is stuck, drivers should shift into neutral, turn off the ignition switch, apply the brakes and pull over.


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Photo: Dispatcher Richard Engersbach. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department