Man accused of child endangerment in connection with freeway death

California Highway Patrol officers on an empty northbound Interstate 5 at Weldon Canyon Road after a pedestrian was struck and killed on the freeway Saturday morning. Dan Watson/The Signal

A man accused of child endangerment connected to the death of a child on the northbound side of Interstate 5 on Saturday has been arrested, according to California Highway Patrol Newhall Office investigators.  

The young girl, who investigators are saying was 4-6 years old but has not yet been identified by the L.A. County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office, was killed on the I-5, near Weldon Canyon Road at approximately 3:40 a.m. 

“On July 2, 2022, at approximately 0339 hours, CHP, Los Angeles Communications Center (LACC), received a 9-1-1 call,” read a report from CHP. “9-1-1 caller reported they had struck an unknown stationary object, which was blocking the roadway on I-5 N/B (Golden State Freeway) at Weldon Canyon Road.”  

“CHP Newhall Area Officers arrived on scene to investigate the incident,” the report continued. “It was determined that the unknown object was a child who had been struck by several vehicles, which caused fatal injuries.” 

The man, who was arrested in connection to the incident approximately two hours after the original call, was identified as Michael Branch, 39, of Hawthorne, with a listed charge description of “cruelty to a child causing great injury/death.”  

He is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail and is scheduled to appear for his arraignment Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m. in Department S of the San Fernando Courthouse.  

No additional details about what investigators believe the relationship was between Branch and the young girl — or the circumstances leading up to the crash — were available as of the publication of this story.  

This incident is still being actively investigated and anyone with information regarding this incident can contact CHP Officer Branch (no relation to the suspect) at the CHP Newhall Area Office, located at 28648 The Old Road, Valencia, or by phone at 661-600-1600 (extension 1621). 


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