The body of a 54-year-old Ceres woman was recovered from the California Aqueduct near Westley on Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after she drove over a berm and crashed into the water.
The woman was driving a Toyota sedan west on Howard Road when, about 600 feet from the aqueduct, when for unknown reasons she lost control of the vehicle, said California Highway Patrol Officer Thomas Olsen. The Toyota crossed the eastbound lane, went through a fence and over the berm before crossing the canal bank and entering the water.
She called 911 to say that her vehicle was in the aqueduct and was sinking, according to Sgt. Stephen True of the California Highway Patrol. Moments later, the call disconnected. Crews arrived soon after, but could not immediately find the site of the wreck.
First responders eventually found tire tracks from the vehicle indicating it entered the water south of Howard.
Stanislaus Towing Services, which is contracted to regularly search the aqueduct for stolen vehicles, responded to the scene with a remote-controlled boat equipped with sonar.
An employee located the vehicle submerged in about 30 feet of water, Olsen said.
The Stanislaus County dive team arrived at 12:45 p.m. and the California Department of Water Resources slowed the flow of water for the recovery effort.
The woman’s body was found inside her vehicle; both were recovered at about 2 p.m., Olsen said. The woman's identity was not available Wednesday afternoon.
The cause of the crash and the speed of the vehicle is under investigation.