Courageous nine-year-old girl crawls out of desert canyon after car crash

Courageous nine-year-old girl crawls out of desert canyon after car crash

A nine-year-old girl crawled out of a 200ft California canyon and walked two miles in desert darkness to find help after surviving a horrific car crash.

Braving the cold and howling of coyotes, Celia Renteria walked through rugged terrain to a nearby home, but no one answered.

Then she hiked up the rocky embankment and along the remote highway to a commuter railway station, where she flagged down a passing motorist.

When police arrived at the scene early on Sunday, they found her father, Alejandro Renteria, 35, but he was dead, pinned in the driving seat.

"She was very courageous, being able to walk through the dark, through bushes and very rough terrain to get help for her dad," said Officer Gil Hernandez of the California Highway Patrol.

"Had she just waited there, we probably would not have found her until the next day."

Flipping several times, the Renterias' car plunged about 200ft down into the canyon along an isolated stretch of the Sierra Highway in the high desert, police said.

Authorities said Celia freed herself from the mangled wreck to find help and praised her bravery and tenacity.

"She walked quite a distance in a very, very threatening environment," Sgt Tom Lackey told KABC-TV. "It's very steep and it's brushy, and there's also coyotes in the background."

She was treated for minor injuries including bumps and bruises and a cut on her face.

"She's in good condition," Lyndsay Hutchison, a hospital spokeswoman, said yesterday.

On video shot by the family in the hospital, the girl told her family she was saddened to learn her father did not survive.

The girl's caregiver, Consuelo Amador, told the station the child did not panic and turned off the car's engine after she smelled petrol.

The CHP is investigating whether alcohol played a role in the crash.

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