The condition of a 9-year-old girl trapped underwater for more than 20 minutes after her mother's car sank to the bottom of the California Aqueduct on July 4 has been upgraded to fair, a hospital spokeswoman said Monday.
Shanika Lister of Rialto had been in critical and then serious condition for nearly a month before recently being upgraded, said Loma Linda University Medical Center spokeswoman Pearl Nickel.
Shanika was a passenger in a 1988 Plymouth driven by her mother, Vicki Lister, who swerved to avoid a car heading in the wrong direction on Pearblossom Highway, the California Highway Patrol reported. Their car ran through a fence, overturned and ended up 16 feet under water.
Lister and a passenger, Mary Goodley of San Bernardino, swam to the surface. Shanika was trapped by her seat belt in the back seat until Los Angeles County Firefighter Ron McFadden dove in and freed her.
When brought to the shore, Shanika was described as unconscious with no pulse. Paramedics were able to restore a slight pulse and the girl was transported to Antelope Valley Hospital.
She was later transported to the hospital in Loma Linda.
Authorities arrested Dennis Martin Byrnes, 49, of Lancaster, the suspected driver of the other car, on felony hit-and-run driving July 5 after a witness followed the car and wrote down a license plate number. Byrnes was released on bail July 7.