A Lancaster woman and her boyfriend have both been arrested after her daughter was killed in a nightmarish traffic accident last weekend.
According to Antelope Valley Press, Verona Gladney and her partner Michael Branch were northbound on the 5 Freeway near Santa Clarita, California in the early morning hours on Saturday. At around 3:40am Gladney’s 7-year-old daughter fell from the window of their 1999 Lincoln Navigator and onto the blacktop of the busy highway. It all happened too fast for anyone to stop it. The child was reportedly hit by multiple vehicles before police were finally contacted, sustaining fatal injuries.
The California Highway Patrol released an official statement revealing a motorist called 911 after they “struck an unknown stationary object which was blocking the freeway”. When police arrived on scene, they discovered the harrowing truth — the object blocking the freeway was the body of a young girl:
“It was determined that the unknown object was a child which had been struck by several vehicles. After initial investigations it was determined the seven- year-old female child fell out of the moving 1999 Lincoln Navigator through … an open window, and as a result sustained fatal injuries.”
Gut-wrenching… that poor little girl. And the poor motorist who contacted the police — how awful it must’ve been to find out the “object” they hit was a child…
In a statement to ABC7, CHP Officer Joshua Greengard clarified that the back window of Verona’s SUV had been previously broken out. He also suggested that the little girl was not properly buckled up and might have even been “playing” when the tragedy occurred:
“There were witnesses saying that she was either hanging out or playing in the back portion, the very very back portion of [the SUV]. That window was already broken out, and it looks like she may have fallen out of the vehicle and then tragically died.”
So, so sad.
Gladney and her boyfriend, who was also in the car at the time, were both arrested on accounts of child endangerment. According to Hometown Station, the 28-year-old mother was charged with one felony and one misdemeanor count of child abuse causing death, and a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter. Her 39-year-old boyfriend was charged with one misdemeanor count of child abuse. Both parties have pleaded not guilty.
Officer Greengard told ABC7 he has never seen such a terrible incident in his 14-year-long career with the CHP:
“I’ve never had a kid falling out of a moving vehicle, I’ve been to numerous tragedies in my time, but this one is very unfortunate. It’s very sad.”
Everyone has had their parent caution them harshly during a car ride at one point or another. This is the worst nightmare parents go through while driving their children.
Per California law, all children under the age of 8 should be in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat of a vehicle. Children who have turned 8 or have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height may move to regular car seating — but just like any other passenger they should be wearing a seatbelt at all times to avoid terrible accidents like this.
The CHP Newhall Area Office urges anyone with any information on this case to contact them immediately at 661-600-1600. Such a heartbreaking and tragic situation. May the child rest in peace.
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