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Sierra Highway crash: Girl, 9, describes hiking in dark to get help

March 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A 9-year-old girl who crawled out of a wrecked SUV and hiked through the darkness to find help for her dying father is talking from her hospital bed about the ordeal she survived.

Celia Renteria, who is still recovering from her injuries at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, described what happened to her relatives, who videotaped her story.

"I climbed out the window, and I went to look at the farmer's house to see if someone was there," she said.

The accident happened Sunday at about 1 a.m. Authorities say Celia was with her father when he lost control of his 2010 Ford Escape. The SUV flew off an embankment and into a canyon off of Sierra Highway. Investigators say Celia got herself out of the wreckage. Then in total darkness, she hiked 200 feet up to the road, then walked another mile to a Metro station in search of help.

"She endured very, very threatening set of circumstances that would overwhelm most adults, much less a young child," said CHP Sgt. Tom Lackey.

A Good Samaritan saw her and called for help more than an hour after the crash.

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

Celia suffered cuts to her face and some bruises. Her father, 35-year-old Alejandro Renteria, died as a result of his injuries.

Relatives say Alejandro Renteria, or Alex. was a former gang member who had worked to get his life back on track. He had just regained custody of his daughter, family members said.

Celia is recovering from her injuries, but she is now dealing with the loss of her father.

Relatives say the two were returning home after a family gathering. Toxicology tests will need to be performed to determine if Alejandro Renteria was under the influence at the time of the accident.


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