HESPERIA — Authorities said one person died when a vehicle crashed into the California Aqueduct late Thursday, two others were rescued and a search was still underway for a possible fourth victim.
The incident was initially reported as a crash with extrication on Main Street between Pyrite and Escondido avenues just before 7 p.m. Thursday, according to San Bernardino County Fire Department spokesman Eric Spies, who said fire personnel arrived and found that a young child had been ejected from the vehicle just before it fell into the aqueduct.
The child reported that two others were still in the vehicle, prompting a response from both County Fire and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials.
Jacob Robles, a Hesperia resident, said he was leaving the Walmart parking lot on Main Street when he saw a cloud of “dust and debris” from the crash.
“It all happened so fast,” Robles said. “It looked like the vehicle swerved into the dirt (off the roadway), crashed through the fence and into the aqueduct.”
Another witness, who declined to provide his name, said the vehicle was airborne and “went up like a rocket” just before it landed in the aqueduct.
Robles and other passersby helped rescue the boy that was ejected from the vehicle. Robles said the boy informed them his mother and two younger brothers were still inside.
“He was conscious, he knew who he was, but he had a deep gash over his left eye,” Robles said. Another witness shared the sentiment, while adding that the boy’s skull was showing from the gash.
The child was taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center for treatment, Spies said, but further details on his condition weren’t available.
The submerged vehicle, which appeared to be a red VW Beetle, was found by Sheriff’s dive team members around 7:30 p.m. One more child was rescued and was taken to a local hospital for treatment, Spies said. Officials didn’t have further details on the rescued victim’s condition Thursday night.
Spies said the rescue was switched to a “recovery effort” after the vehicle was under water for about 2 hours. The vehicle was pulled out of the aqueduct just before 9 p.m., and a deceased adult was found.
The identity of the deceased person is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of next of kin.
Hesperia Sheriff’s Station Sgt. Ron Goddard said officials received “conflicting reports” about the number of passengers in the vehicle, and a possible fourth victim was believed to still be in the aqueduct. Dive team members continued their search late Thursday.
Goddard said specifics on the crash were still being investigated and it wasn’t immediately clear how the crash occurred. The Hesperia Sheriff’s Station Major Accident Investigation Team was requested to conduct the investigation.
Main Street was shut down in both directions between Pyrite and Escondido avenues following the incident. Goddard said the closure was expected to last for “several, several hours,” as the investigation and search continued.
The incident remains under investigation by the Hesperia Sheriff’s Station.
Paola Baker may be reached at 760-955-5332 or PBaker@VVDailyPress.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DP_PaolaBaker.