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Woman Escapes Death After Crashing Car Into Sacramento River

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Anjali Hemphill Anjali Hemphill
Anjali Hemphill joined CBS 13 in June 2012 and she's happy to make the...
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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A woman’s car veered off a slick road, down an embankment and plunged into the Sacramento River.

The accident happened around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday while it was dark, which makes it easy for one wrong move to send you flying into the water down below.

“The only think I was thinking was ‘save my life. I don’t want to die,’ said Maria Lopez.

She is lucky to be alive after she drove her car into Steamboat Slough, but managed to escape.

Fifty-two-year-old Lopez has been driving along Grand Island Road every morning for years on her way to work.

“I just saw it slip on the road and then make a turn,” said Lopez. “While it was making the turn, it flew into the river.”

A neighbor just happened to be outside when Lopez’s car lost control on the wet roadway, and she watched as her car flew through the air into the dark cold water.

“I tried to open the door. The door is locked. I tried to take off my seat belt. It was locked, and I said “What am I going to do? I’m going to die and there’s nothing I can do. The water is right here,” said Lopez.

Lopez’s car started sinking fast, but luckily her thinking was faster.

“I pulled the (seat belt), kept pulling,” said Lopez. “I go outside through the window.”

Maria says if her window hadn’t shattered on impact, she would have been trapped. Even with the weight of the car pulling her under, she managed to swim to shore where those neighbors were waiting for her.

“I gave her warm clothes, some slippers and some coffee,” neighbor Navile Chevaro said.

Lopez is still shocked she was able to make it out alive, because others that have crashed here haven’t been so lucky.

“I tried to save my life for my kids,” said Lopez.

“I believe it was a miracle. I believe people that go into the river, nobody ever comes back out,” said Chevaro.

It took crews several hours to pull the car out from the water with a tow truck and a police dive team.

Lucky, Lopez did not suffer any major injuries.

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