LANCASTER (CBSLA.com) — A family in the high desert is grieving the death of a toddler who was killed Thursday night when a high-speed police pursuit ended in a collision.
The car crash claimed the life of 2-year-old Madison Ruano, who relatives called a “miracle baby.”
KCAL9’s Serene Branson spoke with Ruano’s grandfather, retired LAPD Officer Ed Brentlinger, about the tragedy.
“I can’t even tell you the joy she brought to my life, and the life of my family, and I miss her,” said Brentlinger, while crying.
The Lancaster resident said his daughter Tina had picked up Madison from his home moments before the crash. Authorities say a suspect in a police chase, 45-year-old Marvin Travon Hicks, ran a red light during a police pursuit. He struck the mother and daughter’s Lexus at Avenue I and 10th Street West.
Madison died from her injuries and her mother was critically injured. As of Friday, Lisa Ruano’s injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.
Brentlinger said his daughter’s physical pain is overshadowed by emotional suffering.
“She was pretty busted up and in a lot of pain, but I don’t think her broken arms and broken back can compare with the broken heart of losing a child,” he said.
Brentlinger has had his own brushes with crime.
While serving on the LAPD, he was the second to arrive at the scene of the infamous 1997 North Hollywood shootout, when robbers shot their way out of a Bank of America branch. President Clinton later honored Brentlinger for his heroism that day.
He spent his life protecting the public but said nothing could have prepared him for this personal loss.
“You’re not the victim. You’re trying to control a scene and watch what happens and trying to think what you need to do and who you need to protect — it’s just different. This time, it’s my little Madison, who was a miracle baby,” Brentlinger said.
Madison was born prematurely at 1-pound-12-ounces and her family often referred to her as the “miracle baby.”
Her father, Mike, works as a Kern County firefighter. At the time of the crash, Mike was out of town fighting a blaze in Colorado.
The Lancaster community has been hit hard by the tragedy and is rallying around the family.
Those who want to support the Ruano family can visit the “Baby Madison Ruano” page on Facebook.
Hicks was treated for his injuries and arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and evading a peace officer. He’s being held on $1 million bail.
Brentlinger said, “I dealt with them for 34 years with LAPD. Our society isn’t protected from guys like that. He might be a real nice guy but I’m glad I didn’t run into him last night in the hospital.”