Officer helps stop woman’s runaway car after her brakes fail

Published: Jun. 14, 2023 at 2:13 AM CDT
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FONTANA, Calif. (KCAL/KCBS) - After her brakes failed, a California woman frantically tried to stop her car ahead of a major traffic jam – until a quick-thinking police officer jumped in to help.

Alexis Pritchard, 21, experienced the most terrifying moments of her life Sunday morning. She had just finished gassing up her 1947 Chevrolet Suburban at an Arco station off Interstate 15 when suddenly, the vintage car wouldn’t stop.

“About to get on the freeway and make that left, and sure enough, my brake just went straight to the floor,” Pritchard said.

The 21-year-old has worked for years on vintage cars with her grandfather and knew what to do in this situation. She lowered the gear and turned the engine off, but the slope was no match for the ‘47 Suburban. It kept rolling and rolling for nearly five miles.

Pritchard called 911 as the car kept going. She weaved through traffic, ran red lights and hit construction cones. Within a few minutes, she saw police come up behind her.

Just ahead of the runaway car was a major traffic jam and even more construction. It was at that moment that Officer Albert Charco decided to use his own patrol vehicle to stop Pritchard’s car. He drove around in front of Pritchard, who hit his car, then used his own brakes to stop both of their cars.

When she was finally able to stop and get out of her car, Pritchard says the first thing she did was hug Charco. She knows that if not for the officer, this could have ended very differently.

“I’m just so sorry that I had to ram into the back of your car. I’m just so grateful for them,” she said. “My life isn’t replaceable, but the car is fixable.”

Pritchard also credits the 911 dispatcher, named Ernes, with helping her during the incident. She says she and her grandfather will work together to fix the vintage car until she can safely drive it once again.