When the boot process aborts upon failing to find a removed or failed hard disk due to the system not finding the device that your /etc/fstab file references , it asks for a password and gives you the option to drop into maintenance mode , however when in maintenance mode you are unable to edit your /etc/fstab file to fix the problem since your / partition is mounted Read only!
to fix the situation simply type
mount -n -o remount /
will remount the / partition in rw mode and you can now edit /etc/fstab and remove the
line with the faulty disk or wrong entry, and then reboot as normal.