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9-year-old girl who hiked to help injured father describes ordeal

March 26, 2013|By Kate Mather

The 9-year-old girl who hiked for help after the SUV her father was driving crashed near Acton described the ordeal in her own words.

The girl said she managed to get out of the mangled vehicle and -- despite injuries of her own -- summon help.

“I climbed out the window to a farmer's house to see if someone was there,” Ceilia Renteria said in a brief interview with KTLA-TV.

“I climbed the top of a mountain and I was waving my hands,” she said.

Family members told KTLA she suffered some cuts but is walking around her hospital room and smiling.

In a video from her hospital room. The girl described climbing out of the SUV to get help.

"She was very courageous, being able to walk through the dark, through bushes and very rough terrain to get help for her dad," California Highway Patrol Officer Gil Hernandez told the Associated Press. "Had she just waited there, we probably would not have found her until the next day."

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 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 unconscious, CHP Sgt. Tom Lackey told KABC-TV.

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 was taken to Children's Hospital Los Angeles with minor injuries.

Investigators believe alcohol may have been 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."

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.


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