Authorities on Wednesday identified an infant girl who died after being found unresponsive inside an Upland apartment where her mother allegedly dropped another young child over a balcony.
Six-month-old Ezlynn Xariah Ortega was rushed to a local hospital with head trauma on Tuesday, according to the San Bernardino County coroner's office. Ezlynn was then transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead around 1:30 p.m.
Officers were first called out to the apartment complex in the 600 block of North Wedgewood Avenue around 11:30 a.m. after receiving a report of a child screaming, according to the Upland Police Department.
A 911 caller told dispatchers that a woman was dangling a child over a second-story landing. She then allegedly dropped the toddler, sending her 1-year-old son Jerricho plummeting to the ground below, a police news release stated.
When officers arrived, the 24-year-old woman jumped headfirst over the railing, according to the release.
Police rendered aid to the toddler and mother, then conducted a safety sweep of the woman's apartment. Once inside, they found Ezlynn unresponsive and not breathing.
The infant was believed to have suffered a skull fracture and other internal injuries, according to Upland police Capt. Marcelo Blanco.
"That’s the worst type of situation that we can encounter, when you have a child in that state," Blanco said.
A cause of death was not immediately determined, however.
Jerricho was also taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center for treatment of a broken foot and lacerations to his head. He is in stable and fair condition, and although medical staff still want to run an MRI to ensure he doesn't have head trauma the boy could be released as soon as Thursday, Blanco said.
The captain said he had just paid a visit to the hospital Wednesday afternoon and the toddler was doing "quite amazing."
“In looking at him you would never think that what I just described to you happened," Blanco said. "He is a happy little boy with a soft cast on his arm eating mashed potatoes and chicken nuggets.”
The children's mother, identified as 24-year-old Tierra Ortega, was treated at a hospital for facial injuries before being taken to jail around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. A booking photo released by police showed her face was visibly bruised and swollen.
She faced possible charges of homicide, attempted homicide and child abuse resulting in death, according to investigators.
The children's father was at work at the time of the incident. He was called to the home where police broke the news to the distraught man.
“The father was in as much awe as anybody else that was there, and shocked to even believe that something like this could have happened,” Blanco said.
Investigators said there was no history of disturbance calls at the family's apartment. Neighbors also told KTLA that they had never witnessed any issues there.
"I feel very sad, you know, for the baby, the girl," neighbor Alma Furlong said. "Six months only. And the son. I don't know what happened to her really, because she looked like a very nice girl."
A motive has not been immediately determined.
“She was going through something," neighbor Raul Ramos said of the mother. "Who knows? Only God knows.”
Police determined the family will need assistance covering the baby's funeral and the toddler's medical expenses and are holding a fundraiser next week in place of another event planned that would have benefitted the department.
“The dad works for waste management in the area, and unfortunately right now he is not at work; he is at the hospital by his son’s side, which is where he needs to be," Blanco said. "He has to worry now about burying his daughter.”
Any money raised beyond what's needed for burial and medical costs will go toward an educational fund for Jerricho, the captain said.
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