Woman Dies After Calling 911 to Report Her Car Was Sinking into California Aqueduct

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STANISLAUS COUNTY -- If you travel any less than 65 mph on Howard Road near Westley, people drive onto the other side of the two-lane road to pass you. The speed limit there is 55 mph.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating whether speed played a role in a horrific crash on Howard Road on Wednesday morning. They say a 54-year-old woman from Ceres died when her Toyota left the road and landed in the California Aqueduct.

"It was on Facebook, came up on my feed. Sad and tragic," said Paul Ridley.

Ridley said it upset him to hear about the woman's death, but crashes like that just don't surprise him anymore.

"People are just in too big of a hurry, which causes a lot of the wrecks now," Ridley said.

Like others passing through the small town, he wants to know who the woman behind the wheel was, why people loved her and what mark she left on the world.

Her name will be released once all of her family has been contacted.

What we do know is that the unexpected end to her life must have been terrifying. The CHP says the woman called for help herself, as she was sinking into the aqueduct. The water is over 32 feet deep.

The CHP says when they got to the scene, it wasn't immediately clear where her car went into the water. There were no signs of damage along the guardrails or fences.

Eventually, skid marks helped tell the story.

The CHPS says she was traveling westbound toward Interstate 5 when her car drifted onto the north shoulder. They say she steered to the left and that's when her car traveled up a berm. Orange spray paint shows her path down the other side of it before her vehicle plunged into the water.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department tells FOX40 their dive team helped the CHP search for the car. Eventually, they brought the car back onto land. By that time, the woman inside had been underwater for several hours.

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