HESPERIA — After hours of searching, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department dive team on Friday afternoon suspended the search for a missing child from Thursday night's fatal crash into the California Aqueduct.
A woman and one child were confirmed dead, while another child survived, authorities said. The missing child is presumed dead.
At 2 p.m., Sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said officials suspended the search for the body of Noah Abbott. She said they will resume looking for the 2-year-old starting south of the Main Street Bridge at 8 a.m.
"The dive team can only be in the water for so long, seeing as they've already searched three times where the crash occurred," Bachman said. "The water in the aqueduct cannot be shut off for too long either and our team has searched about a mile of the aqueduct as of today."
A mother and her three children were in a red Volkswagen convertible that crashed through a fence and into the aqueduct at approximately 6:40 p.m. Thursday. The car was found fully submerged, according to authorities.
Upon arrival, one child, identified as 10-year-old Elijah Estrada by family members, was found in the aqueduct holding onto flotation buoys and suffering from injuries after he was ejected from the vehicle just before it went into the aqueduct, authorities said.
Elijah informed deputies that there were three more people inside the vehicle, according to authorities, before he was transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center where he continues to recover.
Sheriff’s aviation 40K2, dive team members and deputies from the Hesperia Major Accident Investigation Team responded Thursday night to assist in the search. Dive team members located Elijah's brother, Jeremiah Abbott, 3, unconscious in the water.
The vehicle was then located and removed from the water. Christina Eileen Estrada, 31, of Hesperia, and Jeremiah were pulled from the water by emergency personnel. The Sheriff-Coroner said Estrada was pronounced dead at the scene, while Jeremiah died after being transported to Desert Valley Hospital.
Dive team members continued to search the aqueduct for Noah, but their efforts were suspended at approximately 11:30 p.m. due to darkness and low visibility, officials said.
Bachman said the aqueduct flow was stopped at 8 a.m. Friday morning as dive team members resumed the search for Noah.
Dive Team Sgt. Brad Bonnet told the Daily Press that the dive team goes down with a PVC pipe on a rope, holding onto it with one hand and feeling around with another.
"They are spaced out so we cover the bottom of the aqueduct 100 percent," Bonnet said. "There's no visibility down there, it's all about touch."
Bonnet said there was no set distance for the search, he simply wanted to make sure "the guys think they are covering the area effectively."
Bachman added that the water in the aqueduct was about 40 degrees and the dive team was facing "a real challenge seeing as it is uncommon for them to search for someone so small when they are used to locating an adult who has fallen into the water."
"We're staying hopeful that we'll be able to find Noah," Bachman said. "Every time I look over at the family watching it just breaks my heart."
Bachman said the dive team started a little north of the Main Street bridge and worked its way south. Divers told family members at the scene Friday they would continue searching until they found Noah.
Jose Quintero may be reached at 760-955-5332 or JQuintero@DesertDispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DP_JoseQ.
Monica Solano can be reached at MSolano@VVDailyPress.com or at 760-951-6231. Follow her on Twitter@DP_MonicaInes