Skip to main content

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

From AnneClaire Stapleton, CNN
March 25, 2013 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
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
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1756 GMT (0156 HKT)
The U.S. and several Arab nations carried out airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, intensifying the campaign against the militant group.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)
Her friends were raped and her brother was killed by ISIS, but 15-year-old "Aria" managed to escape.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1058 GMT (1858 HKT)
Emma Watson lent her name and her glittery profile to the cause of feminism at the United Nations.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
From Gadhafi to Ahmadinejad, Bush to Chavez: look back at memorable moments from past UNGA sessions. Richard Roth reports.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 0741 GMT (1541 HKT)
Just days after NASA's Mars orbiter reached the Red Planet, India's first mission could follow suit and make history.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
Khorasan, al Qaeda's new branch, seeks new ways to attack America and Europe.
Alibaba officially became the biggest initial public offering of all time, confirming that in the final tally it raised $25 billion.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 0257 GMT (1057 HKT)
Do the Chinese really like to mix their Bordeaux with Coca-Cola?
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 0936 GMT (1736 HKT)
Cape Town native, Janine Davies is South Africa's first female rider to compete on a national level.
In the largely male-dominated world of the motorsport, South African super bike racer Janine Davies is an anomaly.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1130 GMT (1930 HKT)
The Lilongwe Wildlife Center houses over 200 animal victims and helps rehabilitate them back into the wild.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1052 GMT (1852 HKT)
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