A Lancaster woman and her boyfriend were arrested in connection with the death of the woman’s 7-year-old daughter, who fell from a moving vehicle onto the northbound Golden State (5) Freeway over the weekend, authorities said Wednesday.
The girl was fatally injured around 3:40 a.m. Saturday, July 2, near Weldon Canyon Road, the California Highway Patrol reported.
Officers went to the scene after receiving a 911 call from a motorist reporting that a vehicle “had struck an unknown stationary object, which was blocking the roadway …,” according to a CHP statement.
“It was determined that the unknown object was a child which had been struck by several vehicles. After initial investigations it was determined the 7-year-old female child fell out of the moving 1999 Lincoln Navigator through … an open window, and as a result sustained fatal injuries. At this time the circumstances behind how she fell out are under investigation,” the CHP reported.
“The (girl’s) mother, Veronda Gladney, and the mother’s boyfriend, Michael Branch … have been arrested for child endangerment,” the CHP reported.
The girl’s name was withheld, pending notification of her next of kin.
According to the CHP, Veronda Gladney, 28, of Lancaster, was the driver of the Lincoln Navigator, and Michael Branch, 39, of Hawthorne, was a passenger, as was the girl, also from Lancaster.
Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to contact the CHP Newhall Area Office at 661-600-1600.
UPDATE: Michael Aaron Branch was charged with one misdemeanor count of child abuse under circumstances or conditions other than great bodily injury or death. He pleaded not guilty to the charge in a San Fernando courtroom on Wednesday, July 6, and he was released late Wednesday afternoon on his own recognizance, according to jail records. A pretrial hearing is scheduled July 27 in Dept. 1, of the Santa Clarita Courthouse. It was not immediately clear if the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office had made a filing decision involving the girl’s mother, Veronda Gladney.