According to the sheriff's department, two deputies in a patrol car observed a woman driving downhill on southbound Pennsylvania Avenue from Foothill Boulevard at about 11:20 a.m. Thursday. The woman was frantically trying to get the deputies' attention.
The patrol car driver, Deputy Marcelo Ruiz, activated the car's lights and siren and caught up to the runaway car, a Ford Focus.
Ruiz pulled ahead of the woman's car as she picked up speed, traveling through five red traffic-light intersections, missing cross traffic.
In front of the Focus, Ruiz began to slow down, slowing the Focus as well. Ruiz continuously positioned his car using the rear-view mirror, according to the department.
Ruiz stopped both cars near Mills Avenue. The patrol car sustained a scrape on its bumper.
The Focus had almost reached a sharp curve on Honolulu Avenue and would likely have crashed through metal barriers out of control, according to the department.
The Focus's brake fluid reservoir was empty, resulting in the brakes not working.
The 51-year-old Tujunga female and both deputies were not injured. She told deputies she was "very grateful" and repeatedly thanked them, according to the department.
"The sheriff's department doesn't necessarily practice techniques on how to stop runaway vehicles, but Deputy Ruiz has a lot of driving experience," said Sgt. Gary Ogurek from the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station. "He just happened to be the right person at the right place at the right time. We're proud of him."