Last Saturday morning, a 7-year-old girl died after falling out of an SUV that was moving on the highway in Santa Clarita, California.
Now, the child’s mother, Veronda Gladney, and her boyfriend, Michael Branch, have been apprehended for child endangerment.
28-year-old Gladney was driving the vehicle, close to Weldon Canyon Road, around 3 a.m. Branch was in the car, as well.
Officers had responded to a call regarding a vehicle hitting an unknown “stationary object which was blocking the roadway.”
“The girl was in the very back portion of the 1999 Lincoln Navigator. There were witnesses saying that she was either hanging out or playing in the back portion, the very, very back portion of it. That window was already broken out. It looks like she may have fallen out of the vehicle and then tragically died,” said a police spokesperson.
The officer added that the girl wasn’t buckled into a seat belt when she fell out.
Gladney faces counts of felony and misdemeanor child abuse causing death and a felony charge of vehicular manslaughter.
39-year-old Branch has been charged with misdemeanor child abuse.
On Wednesday, both suspects pleaded not guilty.
Officers at the scene say that witnesses, the person who hit the child, and the mother were all distraught at the scene.
An investigation is continuing.