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
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Hamas' tactics have changed -- now the group is using commando-like tactics, says CNN's Ben Wedeman.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 0021 GMT (0821 HKT)
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
Former President Bill Clinton acknowledges he got "very close" to helping achieve peace in the Middle East.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0621 GMT (1421 HKT)
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
Inspirational, creepy or just weird? CNN meets the 51-year-old man who dresses like a schoolgirl.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1100 GMT (1900 HKT)
A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1112 GMT (1912 HKT)
Yoga, meditation and watching a snake eat a frog alive: these are some of the experiences to be had at this Himalayan yoga retreat.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
The world's largest flying aquatic insect, with huge, nightmarish pincers, has been discovered in China's Sichuan province, experts say.
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