Woman in critical condition after driving off 7th Street Bridge
2010-03-11 · By Editor
Lizeth Pimentel is in critical condition at St. Mary Medical Center tonight after her SUV drove through the guardrail of the 710 Freeway and careened over the edge of the 7th Street Bridge this morning at 7:30 a.m. (Thursday, March 11.)
The Long Beach Fire Department responded to calls that a vehicle had overturned off of the northbound lanes of the 710 Freeway and into the Los Angeles River. The first arriving LBFD Unit Rescue One, confirmed the vehicle in the water and soon the Long Beach fire and police departments, California Highway Patrol, and other local, state and federal agencies were all working together on the rescue effort.
Approximately twenty-five minutes later, the LBFD Marine Safety division deployed a dive team to locate the vehicle and rescue any victims inside. The team conducted search operations “by feel” in a depth of 15 feet, with almost zero visibility and a strong current, and found the vehicle sitting on the bottom of the river.
After being submerged in the vehicle for nearly half an hour, a female victim was rescued from the rear of the SUV. She was pulled up onto a rescue boat and transferred to land where paramedics began cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other advanced life-saving procedures. The victim, later identified as 24-year-old Lizeth Pimentel, was transported to a local hospital where she remains in critical condition.
An infant car seat reinforced initial reports that there might be multiple victims in the vehicle. However, officers were able to make contact with the Pimentel’s family who confirmed that she should be the only occupant in the vehicle at the time of the accident.
The Urban Search and Rescue team removed the SUV from the river using a large “Wrecker” and conducted a thorough search of the area. The LBPD and the CHP are conducting a joint investigation to determine the cause of the accident.
The Shoemaker Bridge, which connects 7th Street and the 710 Freeway, has been the site of accidents before. Congresswoman Laura Richardson included the bridge and its adjoining ramps in her request for federal funds last year.
“The bridge and its ramps were constructed over fifty years ago and do not meet current Caltrans design standards regarding transportation safety and mobility,” stated Richardson, citing the need to improve deficiencies and increase motorist safety. In July, Congress awarded $1 million in federal appropriations for construction on the bridge.