S. Calif. girl who survived crash describes ordeal

AP News
Posted: Mar 26, 2013 3:49 PM
S. Calif. girl who survived crash describes ordeal

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A 9-year-old girl who survived a rollover crash is out of a Southern California hospital and has described on video how she hiked more than a mile to find help for her father, who was later found dead.

Celia Renteria spoke from a hospital bed about how she hiked to a nearby house after crawling out of the mangled SUV at the bottom of a rugged canyon.

"I climbed out the window, and I went to look at the farmer's house to see if someone was there," she said in footage shot by the family and broadcast on KABC-TV.

No one answered the door. With temperatures dipping into the 40s, she hiked in darkness up the rocky embankment and along the remote highway to a commuter rail station where she flagged down a passing motorist early Sunday.

"I climbed on top of the other mountain, and then I was waving my hands," Celia said.

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.

Law enforcement officials praised Celia's courage and determination to find help for her father.

"Had she just waited there, we probably would not have found her until the next day," California Highway Patrol Officer Gil Hernandez said.

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.

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

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

The girl was released late Monday, hospital spokeswoman Lyndsay Hutchison said.

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

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