'My baby's gone': 3 girls killed, 1 badly injured in Southern California hit-and-run, authorities say

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VICTORVILLE, Calif. – Authorities searched for a suspected hit-and-run driver who killed three children and critically injured a fourth as they walked along a Southern California desert highway.

The four girls – two of them in wheelchairs, including the lone survivor of the collision – were struck shortly before 10:30 p.m. Saturday along Camp Rock Road by a white Chevrolet Silverado that drifted onto the shoulder and struck them from behind, the California Highway Patrol said.

The crash occurred on a stretch of road in the Mojave Desert community in San Bernardino County.

Willow Sanchez, 11; Daytona Bronas, 12; and Sandra Mizer, 13, died at the scene. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Coroner’s Division released their names Monday morning.

“My baby’s gone. I can’t have her no more,” Sandra’s grandmother, Tammy Midkiff, told KNBC-TV.

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Mercy Air took the only surviving girl to an intensive care unit at Loma Linda University Medical Center, according to a spokesperson for CHP's Inland Division.

Natalie Cole, 14, was hospitalized in critical condition.

“Her leg was amputated in the accident, all her other limbs are shattered and her liver is bleeding, her kidneys are struggling,” her mother, Sherrie Orndorff, told KNBC-TV.

“You got out of your vehicle, looked at those dead and dying girls on the ground, and you ran,” Orndoff said of the people in the Chevrolet truck.

A vehicle struck Natalie Cole and three other girls.
A vehicle struck Natalie Cole and three other girls.

Lucerne Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees Vice President Jessica Risler said moving through the thick sand of the high desert was nearly impossible for the two children in wheelchairs. The four children had finished their school year at Lucerne Valley Middle School.

“They just got out for summer break, so this is their first opportunity to have sleepovers, hang out, play, just be children again after a year in lockdown,” Risler said.

A spokesperson for CHP said it is unclear whether drugs or alcohol factored in the hit and run.

“Officer L. McAllister ... is investigating this traffic collision to its conclusion,” the spokesperson said.

A San Bernardino County sheriff's spokesperson said the department is not involved in the investigation or the search for the perpetrators.

The driver and passenger in the truck stopped after the collision and used a flashlight to see whom they had hit before running off without calling 911, leaving the truck, witnesses told family members, according to KNBC-TV.

Monday,Superintendent of Lucerne Valley Unified School District Peter Livingston told the Victorville Daily Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, that it was hard to put into words what the four children have meant to the community.

“They touched so many lives,” Livingston said. “Our motto is, ‘We’re more than a school district, we’re a family.’ I think when you go through a tragedy like this, everyone is there for each other, and that’s definitely what’s happening right now.”

In an Instagram post Monday, Livingston said the district implemented its Emergency Response Plan to provide assistance to students and their families.

Lucerne Valley residents gather in Pioneer Park on Sunday evening, June 6, 2021, for a candlelight vigil in memory of the young victims of a hit-and-run crash in the community on Saturday.
Lucerne Valley residents gather in Pioneer Park on Sunday evening, June 6, 2021, for a candlelight vigil in memory of the young victims of a hit-and-run crash in the community on Saturday.

“This tragic situation has deeply affected us,” Livingston wrote in the post. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers (go) out to the victims’ families, friends and to the entire community. Thank you for your support of our school system as we work together to cope with this tragic loss of these young ladies.”

The CHP urged anyone with information on the incident to contact the Victorville CHP office.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow Charlie McGee on Twitter @bycharliemcgee.

This article originally appeared on Victorville Daily Press: Southern California hit-and-run leaves 3 girls dead, 1 badly injured

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