Toddler injured in Grapevine pileup dies

Firefighters carry debris from the scene of a multi-vehicle crash as the road is readied to be opened on southbound Interstate 5 near Gorman on Saturday. Dozens were injured in the pileup, and a horse died of its injuries, officials said. Dan Watson/The Signal

The toddler who was airlifted from the scene of a 30- to 50-vehicle Grapevine pileup near Gorman Saturday died Wednesday night, despite a five-day struggle to overcome critical injuries suffered in the crash.

“The child involved in Saturday’s collision succumbed to his injuries Wednesday evening,” Officer Richard Antes of the California Highway Patrol office in Fort Tejon said Friday.

“We have not spoken with next of kin,” Sarah Ardalani, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner/Coroner, said Friday afternoon. “We are not releasing the name at this time.”

At least 30 vehicles, and possibly as many as 50, including a horse trailer hauling three horses, were involved in crashes that happened about 2:30 p.m. Saturday, when CHP officers responded to a series of traffic collisions on the southbound side of Interstate 5 south of the Grapevine at Gorman School Road.

The 21-month-old child’s identity has not been disclosed.

Ballon with trainer. Courtesy photo, Whitney Shapiro.

Of the three horses involved in the crash, one died, one survived without injury and one remains in a veterinarian’s hospital after a week, recovering as its owners worry over a serious leg injury.

“The injury in one of his legs has us worried about infection setting in,” horse trainer Whitney Spicher said Friday.

The injured horse is a 4-year-old named Ballon, she said.

“We’re all still shaken up,” she said, noting the trailer hauling three horses was at the front of Saturday’s pileup.

“We’re just taking it day by day, hour by hour,” she said.

Spicher, who runs the horse business Capstone Training in Snohomish, Washington, was traveling through the Grapevine Saturday to attend a three-day horse competition when the crash happened.

The horse named “Lennie” was not injured in the crash and is doing well, Spicher said.

A prize-winning horse, Water Cube, once owned by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, was killed in the crash. He was affectionately referred to by his handlers as Cubey.

Initial accounts of the traffic collision reported that Water Cube had been rescued and placed in the care of a veterinarian. The horse, described as 7 years old, died of the injuries.

Spicher and other handlers of the three horses held high hopes they would clinch future competitions.

In March 2016, an article in USA Today reported a prize-winning equestrian saying that although Water Cube was too young to be in the Olympics, he could see the horse competing in the world of eventing, in which horses compete in dressage, cross country and show jumping.

Spicher, who says she was there when Ballon was born, has delayed her return home to Washington state.

“Ballon is going to have months of recovery,” she said.

The multi-vehicle crash remains under investigation by the CHP.

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