Girl, 9, walks to get help after crash kills dad

Associated Press
This video frame curtesy KABC TV Los Angeles shows a crash of an SUV in Action, Calif. on Sunday, March 24, 2013. A 9-year-old girl crawled out of the mangled SUV, climbed out of a canyon and walked about a mile in the middle of the night to find help after surviving the highway crash that killed her father in Southern California, authorities said. (AP Photo/KABC TV) (AP Photo/KABC TV)
.

View gallery

This video frame curtesy KABC TV Los Angeles shows a crash of an SUV in Action, Calif. on Sunday, March …

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Braving the cold and howling of coyotes, nine-year-old Celia Renteria was certain her father was still alive when she crawled out of a steep Southern California canyon and walked in the desert darkness to summon for help after a rollover crash.

With temperatures dipping into the 40s, she hiked through rugged terrain to a nearby home. No one answered. Then she hiked up the rocky embankment and along the remote highway to a commuter rail station where she flagged down a passing motorist early Sunday.

When officers responded, they found Celia's father, Alejandro Renteria, 35, dead. He was pinned in the driver's seat.

In all, she trekked 1 1/2 to 2 miles.

"She was very courageous, being able to walk through the dark, through bushes and very rough terrain to get help for her dad," said California Highway Patrol Officer Gil Hernandez. "Had she just waited there, we probably would not have found her until the next day."

The Renterias' 2010 Ford Escape was launched about 200 feet down into the canyon along an isolated stretch of the Sierra Highway in the high desert of northern Los Angeles County at about 1 a.m. Sunday, the CHP said. The vehicle flipped several times.

Authorities said Celia managed to free herself from the mangled wreck to find help. She finally found a passing motorist near Acton, a small town tucked in the mountains between Los Angeles and the Mojave Desert.

Law enforcement officials praised Celia's bravery and tenacity.

"She walked quite a distance in a very, very threatening environment," CHP Sgt. Tom Lackey told KABC-TV. "It's very steep and it's brushy and there's also coyotes in the background."

A helicopter airlifted the girl to Children's Hospital Los Angeles. She was treated for minor injuries including bumps and bruises and a cut on her face.

"She's in good condition," Lyndsay Hutchison, a hospital spokeswoman, said Monday. She could not provide any further details, saying parents or a legal guardian must permit the release of information under medical privacy laws.

On video shot by the family in the hospital, the girl said she was cold and hurt, according to KCBS-TV. She told her family she was saddened to learn her father did not survive the crash.

The girl's caregiver Consuelo Amador told the station the child didn't panic, and turned off the car's engine after she smelled gasoline.

"They were really close, and that's what hurts me the most," the girl's sister Amber Mejia told KCBS. "He was actually the only father that sticked around my sister."

A coroner's spokesman said Monday that Alejandro Renteria was a resident of the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles. No one answered at two addresses in the area listed in his name.

Television footage showed crews using a long tow cable to remove the severely damaged black SUV from the canyon.

The CHP was investigating whether alcohol played a role in the crash. Toxicology tests are pending from the coroner.

___

Associated Press writers Robert Jablon and Shaya Tayefe Mohajer contributed to this report.

View Comments (121)

Recommended for You

  • Police officer shot after responding to wrong home

    ATLANTA (AP) — A police officer was shot and critically wounded Monday when he responded to a call of a suspicious person and showed up at the wrong house, authorities said.

    Associated Press
  • Man sentenced to life with no parole walks free in Missouri

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man sentenced to life in prison without parole on a marijuana-related charge walked out of a Missouri prison a free man on Tuesday, after spending two decades behind bars.

    Associated Press
  • Woman Becoming Nun Needs Friend's Interest, Not Concern

    DEAR ABBY: I was best friends with "Joanne" after we met in middle school. She comes from a conservative Christian family and has three successful siblings. This has made her quirky, media-driven pursuits and city life a disappointment to her family. When we were teens and she learned that I was a…

    Dear Abby
  • Video of Israeli soldier arresting boy becomes latest in war of perception

    A soldier pins a boy down and is assaulted by his family: The scene might have gone unnoticed if not for footage that has turned it into another weapon in the Israel-Palestinian war of perception. Palestinians see it as proof of Israel's abuses in the occupied West Bank, while many Israelis say the…

    AFP
  • Sheriff: Suspect kills mother, stepfather, grandmother

    Outfitted in camouflage and armed with a high-powered rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition, Robert Seth Denton fatally shot his mother, stepfather and grandmother while six children witnessed the carnage in the family's double-wide mobile home in eastern Tennessee, a sheriff said Monday.

    Associated Press
  • All eyes on Manchester United as deadline day dawns

    Manchester United were the centre of attention as the Premier League's transfer deadline day dawned on Tuesday, with moves involving David de Gea and Anthony Martial awaiting completion. Goalkeeper De Gea had appeared on the brink of a move to Real Madrid worth between 30 million ($33.8 million)…

    AFP
  • Big guns in east Ukraine fall silent, two more die from wounds in Kiev protests

    Sporadic shelling and shooting, which each side has blamed on the other, had ensured a steadily mounting death toll despite the ceasefire called as part of a peace plan worked out in Minsk, Belarus, in February. More than 6,500 people have been killed since a separatist rebellion erupted there in…

    Reuters
  • World markets drop after bleak Chinese industry report

    TOKYO (AP) — Global stock markets fell sharply Tuesday and Wall Street was set to open lower as gloomy economic data from China and Japan augured further uncertainty for investors after a brutal August.

    Associated Press
  • Obama slams 'completely unacceptable' cop killing

    President Barack Obama vowed Monday to push for police officer safety after a Texas sheriff's deputy was gunned down from behind and shot multiple times at close range. Darren Goforth, 47, was killed late Friday in the Houston area, and local officials have blamed ramped-up rhetoric against police…

    AFP
  • View

    Kentucky county clerk refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses (26 photos)

    Gay couples in a Kentucky county are expected at the courthouse door Tuesday morning after the Supreme Court ruled against a defiant clerk who has refused to hand out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court ruled against the county clerk who refused to issue gay marriage licenses,…

    Yahoo News
  • Daughter Deep In Debt Needs Counseling, Not More Money

    DEAR ABBY: Three years ago I gave my adult daughter, married with a child, more than $16,000 to help pay off her debts because she couldn't pay her bills. She and her husband maintain separate accounts, which I find odd. He pays certain expenses; she pays others. Now I find she's deep in debt again…

    Dear Abby
  • This versatile 15-in-1 Travel Jacket is Kickstarter’s most funded piece of clothing at $7.2M

    Remember the MacGyver Travel Jacket that has 15 compartments that each have their own designated functions? It turns out that so many people loved the idea of having such a “smart” jacket that the project became the most funded piece of clothing in Kickstarter history, topping $7.2 million in…

    BGR News
  • Investigators: Arizona woman acknowledges drowning twin sons

    PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona woman told investigators that she drowned her 2-year-old twin sons and tried to kill her 3-year-old stepbrother in the same way because she didn't want them to live with the difficulties she faces.

    Associated Press
  • Women are not getting treated for menopausal symptoms

    By Roxanne Nelson (Reuters Health) - Many women with severe menopausal symptoms are not being treated for them even though safe, effective remedies are available, a study from Australia suggests. The findings may be applicable to other countries, too, according to senior author Dr. Susan R. Davis…

    Reuters
  • With help, small island states ditch diesel for cheaper, cleaner energy

    By Megan Rowling BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - After oil prices hit a record high in July 2008, the tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands was forced to declare an economic emergency since around 90 percent of its energy needs were met by imported petroleum products. The fuel price…

    Reuters
  • CERN: Test results show more detail about 'God particle'

    GENEVA (AP) — After three years of scrutinizing the elusive Higgs boson closely, scientists say they've determined that the "God particle" behaves just as predicted.

    Associated Press
  • Play

    Decaying bodies found in unlicensed funeral home

    Police are investigating a funeral home in West Philadelphia for allegedly operating with an expired license.

    KABC – Los Angeles