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9-year-old girl who hiked in rough terrain to help dad a hero, family says

March 25, 2013|By Kate Mather

A 9-year-old girl who hiked through difficult terrain to get help after the SUV she was traveling in crashed near Acton acted courageously to try to save her father, her family and authorities said.

Alejandro Renteria, 35 of North Hollywood, was driving south on Sierra Highway near Soledad Canyon Road when he lost control of his Ford Escape, coroner's and California Highway Patrol officials said. He later died.

The girl's sister, Amber Mejia, said she was not surprised by the child's actions on Renteria's behalf. "They were really close. And that hurts me the most," Mejia told KCBS-TV Channel 2.

The vehicle tumbled down an embankment, rolling "numerous times," the CHP said.

The girl managed to climb out of the SUV and make her way to a nearby home, but no one answered the door, the CHP said. The girl then went back to check on her father, who was still unconscious, CHP Sgt. Tom Lackey told KABC-TV Channel 7.

She then took a different route, hiking up a "steep embankment in a very dark and threatening environment" to the roadway, where she eventually flagged down a passing motorist, the CHP said.

Emergency workers arrived about 2:30 a.m., and pronounced Renteria dead at the scene, the CHP said. The girl, whose name has not been released, was taken to Children's Hospital of Los Angeles with minor injuries.

Investigators believe alcohol was involved, though an investigation is ongoing.

"She walked quite a distance in a very, very threatening environment. It's very black out here, very dark. It's very steep and it's brushy and there's also coyotes in the background," Lackey told KABC. "So for someone who is raised in a very urban environment, as opposed to a rural setting, that can be quite intimidating."

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Email: kate.mather@latimes.com

Twitter: @katemather | Google+

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