5 Freeway

Mother, Boyfriend Arrested in Death of Her 7-Year-Old Daughter Who Fell From Moving SUV

A 7-year-old girl was fatally injured after she fell through an SUV's open window on the 5 Freeway.


A woman and her boyfriend were arrested in connection with the death of the woman's 7-year-old daughter, who fell from a moving SUV onto a Southern California freeway.

The girl was fatally injured around 3:40 a.m. Saturday on the northbound 5 Freeway near Weldon Canyon Road, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Officers went to the scene after receiving a 911 call from a person 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 who had been struck by several vehicles. After initial investigations, it was determined the 7- year-old girl 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 (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, Gladney, 28, of Lancaster, was the driver of the Lincoln and Branch, 39, of Hawthorne, was a passenger, as was the girl, also from Lancaster.


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 It was not immediately clear whether they have an attorney. 

Jail records indicated Branch's first court appearance was scheduled for Wednesday. 

Anyone with information on the case is urged to call the CHP Newhall Area Office at 661-600-1600. 

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