The girl with brown hair stepped boldly onto a busy California freeway, holding up her hand as if to stop traffic. Several cars swerved to avoid the petite teenager, but she was struck nonetheless, and later died in the trauma unit of a nearby hospital.
San Diego authorities have tried, tirelessly, to identify the child since she was found in the highway 18 months ago, sending her fingerprints to law enforcement agencies across the nation, and to other countries.
Now they're asking for the public's help in finding the girl's name, so they can find her family and return her remains to those who loved her.
“She definitely has people who miss her, but we haven’t been able to find them or find out who she is,” said San Diego County Medical Examiner investigator Tessa Lee.
An autopsy placed the girl's age at about 16. She was Hispanic, and may have come from Mexico or Central America, authorities said. She was wearing jeans and a sleeveless blouse. Her nails were painted red. She was 5-foot-1.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Authorities said they don't know why the girl attempted to walk across Interstate 5, which spans eight lanes in northern San Diego County. Highway signs in the area warn of keeping an eye out for people fleeing across the expanse, which has a longtime history of immigrants running across the busy freeway.
"We can’t speculate. We don’t know exactly what happened or what was in her head. We don’t know what might have been happening in the moment," Lee said.
The girl was in good health, according to her autopsy. There were no drugs or alcohol found in her system. Artists were able to create a photo of what she looked like before her death.
She likely had recently entered the country, officials said. Her shoes were too badly damaged to provide soil samples that could be used to determine where she came from, according to her autopsy.
No one was cited in the accident, authorities said. Several drivers remained on the scene and gave witness reports about what happened.
“She is certainly someone who sticks in all of our heads, who we all care about, who we just want to get her home to her family," said Lee. "We just want to tell them what happened to her and get them some answers.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the medical examiner's office at 858- 694-2905 and reference case 2018-01951. Emails may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org .