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
updated 9:27 AM EST, Mon December 29, 2014
The missing AirAsia jet probably crashed into the sea, Indonesia's top rescue official said Monday, citing radar data from the plane's last contact.
updated 3:50 AM EST, Mon December 29, 2014
Here are four ways the two incidents appear to differ.
updated 9:49 AM EST, Mon December 29, 2014
Hundreds of passengers have endured a freezing night on a ferry, more than 24 hours after a fire broke out on the vessel in the Adriatic Sea.
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist and fatherof the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT