Wash

Glendale Public Works and police remove a car from the Verdugo Wash in Glendale on Thursday, January 26, 2012. A 53-year-old woman drove her Mercedes Benz in the Verdugo Wash late Thursday morning on January 26, 2011, Glendale Police say. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer)

Officials were at a loss to explain how a 53-year-old Glendale woman drove her Mercedes about a mile up a concrete Verdugo Wash channel Thursday before barreling to a stop just short of an 8-foot drop-off into the L.A. River.

The woman, whom police didn’t identify Thursday, entered the wash about 11 a.m. at Glenoaks Boulevard and Kenilworth Avenue after reportedly confusing the concrete-lined channel for a freeway on-ramp, officials said. About a mile later, and after reaching speeds of up to 70 mph, the woman finally stopped after barreling down about nine, 3-foot long steps.

Maintenance workers tried to flag her down as she whizzed by at freeway speeds.

“Right now, it's unexplainable,” Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said Thursday.

The woman was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation after complaining of back pain. Lorenz said she didn't appear to be under the influence of alcohol.

“She never even stopped,” said Glendale resident Lisa McCallister, who witnessed the bizarre scene.

McCallister was working at her store, Luigi’s Pottery and Fountains, when she said she suddenly heard what sounded like a big rig crashing into a car and dragging it.

“It was so bad,” she said.

She ran outside and saw the Mercedes barreling down the wash at a high rate of speed.

Engineers for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided to bring in a crane during the rush hour commute to hoist the sedan out due to the slippery conditions in the channel caused by flowing water.

The extraction prompted police to temporarily close a portion of San Fernando Road, but Metrolink commuter service was not affected.

Hazmat crews were on the scene to make sure none of the car's fluids leaked into the water.

The woman could be asked to pay restitution due to the significant police, fire, heavy-lifting machine crews and engineers who responded to the incident, Lorenz said. Officials were evaluating whether she broke any laws in the incident.