One of the children rescued after a fatal car crash into the California Aqueduct in Hesperia has died, authorities said Friday as the search was temporarily halted for another possible young victim.
Four people, including three boys, were believed to be inside the car when it crashed through a rail near Main Street at about 6:45 p.m. before landing in the waters below.
Rescuers arrived to find the red Volkswagen convertible submerged in the aqueduct and pronounced a woman dead at the scene.
The woman was later identified as 31-year-old Christina Eileen Estrada by San Bernardino County coroner's officials.
Two children were pulled from the water by a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department dive team, according to officials. One, a 10-year-old named Elijah Estrada, was conscious and holding onto flotation buoys with injuries, while 3-year-old Jeremiah Abbott was unconscious, deputies said. Both children were transported to a local hospital.
Rescuers were unable to find a third child believed to be in the car at the time of the crash — 2-year-old Noah Abbott — but returned Friday morning to resume the search. Recovery crews canvassed the area from north of the Main Street bridge and moved south, covering 1 mile of the 6-mile aqueduct, authorities said.
About 2 p.m. Friday, divers halted the search due to concerns about "water flow safety," a sheriff's official said. The search was expected to resume Saturday.
“Even though my baby is in this aqueduct, he is an angel in heaven, and those babies are angels in heaven and we have to just go through the grieving process,” Shayla Rhodes, the children's grandmother, said through tears at the scene.
The crash was being investigated, but in a statement Sheriff's officials said there was "nothing to suggest that this is anything other than a very tragic accident."
The oldest child, Elijah, was taken to Loma Linda hospital, according to his uncle Steve Abbott, and on Friday afternoon officials said he remained in the hospital in stable condition. Elijah was in “good spirits” and even asked for Skittles and Sprite, Abbott said.
The second child rescued from the water, 3-year-old Jeremiah, died in the emergency room at Desert Valley Hospital Thursday night.
The third and youngest child, Noah, was still missing Friday afternoon.
“Those kids were just something else. … They were full of life. They were happy. … It’s hard,” the uncle said.
The crash occurred only about a mile from the family’s home in Hesperia, according to Steve Abbott.
The father of the children was not in the car at the time of the crash, but was at the hospital with Elijah Friday, Steve Abbott said.
“My brother is destroyed by all this. He’s lost right now,” Steve Abbott said.
The father is an Iraq War veteran, according to the creator of a GoFundMe campaign for the family.
A second GoFundMe has also been set up to help the family with funeral and burial costs; proceeds from both campaigns will be pooled and go toward memorial services, their creators said.