Skip to main content

9-year-old girl hikes through rough terrain to get help for dad after crash

From AnneClaire Stapleton, CNN
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Mon March 25, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police: "She walked quite a distance in a very, very threatening environment"
  • She walks to a house, then flags a motorist
  • Her father does not survive
  • "They were really close," her sister says

(CNN) -- When their SUV plunged off the side of a desolate California highway and landed 200 feet into a ravine, the little girl knew she had to do something to help her father who lay unconscious in the driver's seat of the overturned vehicle.

The girl, all of 9 years old, freed herself and crawled out of the window of the wrecked Ford Escape.

She smelled gasoline and turned off the engine.

And then she started walking, in pitch black darkness, through steep and forbidding terrain.

"She walked quite a distance in a very, very threatening environment," California Highway Patrol Sgt. Tom Lackey told CNN affiliate KABC. "It's very black out here, very dark. It's very steep and it's brushy and there's also coyotes in the background."

The wreck took place about 1 a.m. Sunday on Sierra Highway in Acton, an unincorporated rural area in Los Angeles County.

Police told CNN the SUV careened off the road and rolled over several times before coming to rest upside down.

The girl noticed a light about 1,000 feet away and walked over to the home.

No one answered the door, police said.

So, she walked back to the mangled SUV to check on her father.

Then, police said, she hiked 200 feet up the embankment to the highway.

Her goal: to make it to the nearest lit area, a commuter rail station about a mile away.

There, she flagged a passing motorist, who called police.

But by the time officers reached the SUV, it was too late.

The father, 35-year-old Alejandro Renteria, had died of his injuries.

"They were really close. And that hurts me the most," Amber Mejia, the girl's sister, told CNN affiliate KCAL.

The pair was returning from a friend's house when the father failed to make a steep curve on the road, the girl told police. Police suspect alcohol played a role.

The girl, who suffered minor bruises, will remain under observation at a hospital until Tuesday.

Relatives said she was faring well, considering the circumstances.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.
The worst ebola outbreak in history spreads out of control in West Africa. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT