An 11-year-old girl was declared brain dead and removed from life support Wednesday, four days after an all-terrain vehicle struck her and killed her best friend near Apple Valley.
Christina "Tina" Bird was pronounced dead at 8:50 a.m. at Loma Linda University Medical Center, family member Ernie Nunez confirmed. Her death follows that of Jacob Martinez, 12, who was killed in Saturday's crash.
Tina and Jacob were celebrating the Fourth of July weekend with their families at an Inland Empire campground. The children were riding a small ATV about 9 p.m. Saturday when they were struck on Stoddard Wells Road by a larger Polaris off-road vehicle, authorities said. The vehicle fled the scene after the crash.
A bystander found the children in the Stoddard Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area, the California Highway Patrol said in a news release. The 53,000-acre recreation area is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Jacob was pronounced dead at the scene. Tina was found with multiple broken bones and a severed spinal cord and was taken to an area hospital by paramedics before being airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center for further treatment, authorities said.
On Tuesday, before her daughter's death, Tina's mother appealed to the public for help in finding the off-roader responsible for the fatal hit-and-run crash.
“My daughter was 11 years old. She was loved by many people,” Felicia Nunez said.
The CHP is investigating the collision and, based on wreckage at the scene, thinks the suspect's vehicle is a bright-orange 2021 RZR Turbo S or Turbo S4.
Investigators said the children were riding a Tao Tao ATV northeast on Stoddard Wells Road as an orange side-by-side UTV was traveling east on Stoddard Wells Road, east of Central Road. The side-by-side struck the children's vehicle, the CHP said. Side-by-side off-road vehicles are characterized as utility-task vehicles with bucket or bench seating and a steering wheel.
In a news conference outside the hospital seeking the public's help, Jacob's aunt demanded the culprit be brought to justice.
“My nephew was mangled. He was trampled to death,” Daisy Montano said. “And that person just left.
“We were just trying to be with our families,” she said. “It was right in front of our campsite. We had no control of what was going to happen.
On a GoFundMe page for Tina organized by Ernie and Felicia Nunez, organizers said, "Tina has grown her pair of wings to join her Grandma and Grandpa in Heaven, where she is pain-free."
Anyone with information regarding the deadly crash is asked to call CHP Officer Cesar Ramos at the Victorville office at (760) 241-1186.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.