Woman dies after car plunges into Sacramento River
A West Sacramento woman who managed to call 911 before her car sank into the Sacramento River on Wednesday morning was found dead in the vehicle after it was pulled from the murky water off Old River Road.
Family members and Yolo County coroner’s officials identified the woman as Mussarat Parveen Chaudhary, 58, whose body was recovered from the back seat of the car shortly after 2 p.m.
According to relatives and the California Highway Patrol, Chaudhary was returning home from her dishwashing job at the Cache Creek Casino Resort at about 8:10 a.m. when she called her daughter to say the brakes on her 2009 Toyota Camry were malfunctioning.
That call was disconnected, after which Chaudhary placed a second call to 911.
“She basically said she had gone in to the water and didn’t know how to get out of her car,” California Highway Patrol Officer Cindy Leal said Wednesday at the river’s edge about five miles north of West Sacramento, where divers from the Sacramento Drowning Accident Rescue Team had gone in search of the vehicle.
As CHP dispatchers tracked down a Punjabi translator to help handle the call, “the line went dead,” Leal said.
Divers, with assistance from the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department’s marine patrol unit, found the car shortly before noon in about 35- to 40-foot-deep water. The site was about a quarter-mile south of where officers spotted fresh tire tracks heading into the river, according to Leal.
As preparations were made for a tow truck to pull the car from the river, at least two dozen members of Chaudhary’s family — hailing from Davis, Woodland and West Sacramento, and from as far away as Modesto and Fremont — gathered at the Elkhorn boat launch area north of the scene to await news from the CHP.
“Come save me” were among the woman’s last words to her daughter, son Nadeem Chaudhary of West Sacramento said. He added that relatives tried desperately to reach her when the phone disconnected, but the calls went directly to voicemail.
Nadeem Chaudhary said his mother worked for the Cache Creek Casino Resort for nine years and was used to traveling Old River Road.
“Usually, my dad is with her, but today was his day off,” Nadeem Chaudhary said. He added that the family had no previous problems with the Camry, which was purchased used a few months ago.
“I drove it yesterday and it was fine,” Chaudhary said.
Leal said mechanical tests would be performed on the vehicle as part of the CHP’s investigation.
“It doesn’t appear from her family that she was having any medical issues,” and neither drugs nor alcohol were believed to be factors either, Leal said. An autopsy was scheduled for today.
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene
Authorities pull a black Toyota Camry from the Sacramento River on Wednesday afternoon; a woman’s body was found in the back seat. Lauren Keene/Enterprise photo