At 4-foot-11, Maria Valdoria may be small, but her grip was too much Saturday for the 300-pound man who tried to steal her car in Whittier, authorities said.
Valdoria, 23, of La Mirada, was driving out of a carwash shortly before noon when the man approached and told her the car was leaking oil, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Angie McLaughlin.
When Valdoria got out to check her car, the man allegedly jumped in and began to drive away. But Valdoria leaped into the car on top of the man and held fast to the steering wheel, McLaughlin said.
The 1991 Honda Accord careened along busy Telegraph Road as the two struggled at the wheel. McLaughlin said off-duty sheriff's Deputy Larry Thompson, stopped at a light, noticed the vehicle and gave chase.