Woman faces DUI charges, plunged car into Bay

A 58-year-old San Carlos woman, who was saved by a Burlingame High School student after plunging her car into the Bay waters in Burlingame, was arraigned on misdemeanor drunken driving charges Tuesday morning.

On April 28 at about 8:15 p.m., on the night before her birthday, Diane Schwerdtfeger was driving her Nissan compact car after dining at the Kincaid’s Bayhouse restaurant on Airport Boulevard when she failed to turn where the road curved. She “catapulted” off the road and drove into the water, more than 50 feet from the shore, according to Burlingame police.

“The road went right and she kept going straight,” Deputy District Attorney SteveWagstaffe said.

Becky Reynoso, 15, a Burlingame High School student who is on the swimming team, was a passenger in a car as it drove by the scene. She told her parents to stop the car before getting out and jumping into the water to save Schwerdtfeger.

Burlingame police Officer Todd Chase praised Reynoso, saying most spectators merely watched.

“There were other people on the shore who could’ve did what she did and they didn’t,” he said. “She was the one who had her parents pulled over. … And this wasn’t two feet of water. Water was over her head. It was high tide. The car sunk within minutes.”

Another passer-by, retired firefighter Lawrence Rensch, 50, also jumped into the water to help Reynoso and Schwerdtfeger. Rensch and Reynoso were honored for their heroism at the Burlingame City Council meeting Monday night.

Schwerdtfeger was taken to a hospital for minor bruises. She has no criminal record in San Mateo County. Her attorney, Mike Davidson, entered a plea of not guilty on her behalf Tuesday. A jury trial has been scheduled for Aug.13.

bfoley@examiner.com

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