Woman in critical condition after SUV plunges off bridge into LA River

A 24-year-old woman remained in critical condition today after her sport utility vehicle plunged off a bridge into the Los Angeles River in Long Beach.

Lizeth Pimentel was hospitalized at St. Mary Medical Center, where her family was holding a vigil and praying for her recovery.

Pimentel was the object of a dramatic river rescue Thursday morning, when divers working in coffee-brown currents 15 feet deep brought up the woman more than 25 minutes after they were first dispatched, according to the Long Beach Fire Department.

Paramedics performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other life-saving procedures. When she arrived at the hospital around 8:45 a.m. Thursday, Pimentel had no pulse and her temperature was 89 degrees, Andrew Reno, St. Mary's director of emergency trauma services, told the Press-Telegram.

After treatment by trauma workers, her heart resumed beating but, 30 minutes later, stopped again for a few minutes, he told the Press-Telegram, adding that it was too early to offer a prognosis.

The SUV crashed through a guardrail about 7:30 a.m. at the Shoemaker Bridge, which connects Seventh Street to the Long Beach (710) Freeway on the west side of the city, said Long Beach firefighter Joshua Johnson.

"The vehicle was found sitting on the bottom of the river on its wheels," said Battalion Chief Frank Hayes. "Forcible entry was required to enter certain areas of the vehicle.

"An infant car seat was located during this operation, which further reinforced the initial information that there might be multiple victims in the vehicle."

But her family said she was alone, said Long Beach police Officer Jackie Bezart.

Francisco Pimentel, the victim's brother, told KCAL9 Thursday night that he was "relieved, for the fact that she's still alive. But you know all I want to do is to hug her and get to see her wake up and talk to her."

She remained in critical condition early this morning, said a St. Mary Medical Center nursing supervisor.