Multiple vehicles slammed into the child moving at freeway speeds.
Trigger Warning: This article contains graphic details that may be distressing to readers.
In a tragic turn of events, a child fell through a car window and was run over by several vehicles on the freeway. The girl's mother, Veronica Gladney, 28 years old of Lancaster, and her boyfriend 39-year-old Hawthorne resident, Michael Branch, were arrested for child endangerment. The incident took place on the 5 Freeway in Newhall on Saturday at around 3:40 a.m. According to CBS News, California Highway Patrol officers got a call about a vehicle that "had struck an unknown stationary object, which was blocking the roadway." Through preliminary investigation "it was determined that the unknown object was a child which had been struck by several vehicles." It is still unclear how the child fell out of the window.
Mom Arrested After Daughter, 7, Falls Out of Car Window and Is Fatally Run Over on Calif. Freeway https://t.co/ND2wU3E6wB— People (@people) July 8, 2022
"[The girl] was in the very back portion of the 1999 Lincoln Navigator," said CHP Ofc. Joshua Greengard per ABC 7. "There were witnesses saying that she was either hanging out or playing in the back portion, the very very back portion of it. That window was already broken out, and it looks like she may have fallen out of the vehicle and then tragically died." The young girl was not strapped into a child seat, he said. According to California law, children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat of a vehicle.
A 7-year-old girl was brutally killed over the 4th of July weekend when she fell from the back of a moving SUV on the 5 Freeway in the Newhall Pass near Santa Clarita and was hit by several vehicles, according to authorities. https://t.co/K7wCOtyP1x— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) July 6, 2022
During his 14 years on the job he said he's never seen such a tragic accident. "I've never had a kid falling out of a moving vehicle," said Greengard. "I've been to numerous tragedies in my time, but this one is very unfortunate. It's very sad." Everyone who witnessed the unfortunate incident is in complete distress and shock. Greengard said everyone, including drivers who hit the child, were all distraught along with the child's mother who was also in pain. "From other officers, I know she was distraught also," said Greengard. Gladney was behind the wheel at the time of the incident. She was charged with one felony and one misdemeanor count of child abuse causing death, and a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter, Ricardo Santiago, spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, told local outlet Hometown Station. Branch was charged with one misdemeanor count of child abuse. Both Gladney and Branch pleaded not guilty on Wednesday. The child’s identity is still being withheld, according to officials with the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office.
The incident is currently under investigation and anyone with information is being urged to contact the CHP Newhall Area Office at 661-600-1600.