‘My baby’s gone’: 3 girls killed, 1 badly injured in Southern California hit-and-run, authorities say
VICTORVILLE, Calif. — Authorities are searching for a suspected hit-and-run driver who killed three children and critically injured a fourth as they walked along a Southern California desert highway.
The four young girls — two of them in wheelchairs, including the lone survivor of the collision — were struck shortly before 10:30 p.m. Saturday along Camp Rock Road by a white Chevrolet Silverado that drifted onto the shoulder and struck them from behind, the California Highway Patrol said.
The crash occurred on a stretch of road in the Mojave Desert community in San Bernardino County.
Three of the girls — Willow Sanchez, 11; Daytona Bronas, 12; and Sandra Mizer, 13 — died at the scene. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Coroner’s Division released their names Monday morning.
“My baby’s gone. I can’t have her no more,” Sandra’s grandmother, Tammy Midkiff, told KNBC-TV.
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Mercy Air took the only surviving girl to an intensive care unit at Loma Linda University Medical Center, according to a spokesperson for CHP’s Inland Division. Reports from the community since have suggested she lost a leg; however, that information is not yet confirmed.
Natalie Cole, 14, was hospitalized in critical condition.
“Her leg was amputated in the accident, all her other limbs are shattered and her liver is bleeding, her kidneys are struggling,” her mother, Sherrie Orndorff, told the station.
“You got our of your vehicle, looked at those dead and dying girls on the ground, and you ran,” Orndoff said of the people in the truck.
Natalie Coe. (Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Risler)
Lucerne Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees Vice President Jessica Risler said moving through the thick sand of the High Desert is nearly impossible for the two children in wheelchairs. The four children had recently finished their school year at Lucerne Valley Middle School.
“They just got out for summer break, so this is their first opportunity to have sleep-overs, hang out, play, just be children again after a year in lock-down,” Risler said.
A spokesperson for CHP said it is unclear if drugs or alcohol factored in the hit and run.
“Officer L. McAllister … is investigating this traffic collision to its conclusion,” the spokesperson said.
A San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokesperson said the department is not involved in the investigation or the search for the perpetrators.
The driver and passenger in the truck stopped after the collision and used a flashlight to see who they had hit before running off without calling 911, leaving the truck, witnesses told family members, according to KNBC-TV.
On Monday,Superintendent of Lucerne Valley Unified School District Peter Livingston told the Victorville Daily Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, that it was still hard to put into words what the four children have meant to the community.
“They touched so many lives,” Livingston said. “Our motto is, ‘We’re more than a school district, we’re a family.’ I think when you go through a tragedy like this, everyone is there for each other, and that’s definitely what’s happening right now.”
In an Instagram post on Monday, Livingston said the district has implemented its Emergency Response Plan to provide assistance to students and their families.
Lucerne Valley residents gather in Pioneer Park on Sunday evening, June 6, 2021, for a candlelight vigil in memory of the young victims of a hit-and-run crash in the community on Saturday. (Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Risler)
“This tragic situation has deeply affected us,” Livingston wrote in the post. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers (go) out to the victims’ families, friends and to the entire community. Thank you for your support of our school system as we work together to cope with this tragic loss of these young ladies.”
The CHP urged anyone with information on the incident to contact the Victorville CHP office.
Contributing: The Associated Press.
Follow Charlie McGee on Twitter @bycharliemcgee.
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