Cops Probe Ravine Crash Response

A 6-year-old girl who survived 10 days in a crashed car, nourished only by dry noodles and Gatorade, was recovering from dehydration as her family marveled at her resilience and mourned the death of her mother.

Meanwhile, police are facing questions over how they handled the search for the pair, reports CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales. The California Highway Patrol is conducting an internal investigation.

Ruby Bustamante was sitting up in bed, smiling, asking for ice cream and watching TV at Riverside Regional Medical Center, Dr. Webster Wong told reporters at a news conference Wednesday.

"She has sustained some very minor, non-life-threatening injuries," he said.

Doctors say her stay should be a short one, but they still don't know what effect, if any, the ten days Ruby spent with her mother's body might have.

Ruby's great-grandfather Bill Cooney said she didn't appear to remember much about the crash that killed her 26-year-old mother, Norma Bustamante.

"She's a strong little girl, strong, real strong," Juan Morin, the girl's uncle, said as he fought back tears.

Relatives said they last saw Ruby before she left her Indio home with her mother on April 4 to visit her mother's boyfriend.

They reported both missing the next day, but authorities could find no trace of them until state Department of Transportation workers spotted their crashed Ford Taurus at the bottom of a ravine on Tuesday. Caltrans workers gave Ruby water and a cup of lime Jell-O before she was taken to the hospital.

Relatives criticized authorities for not moving quickly with the search. The CHP had searched the area after a woman reported seeing a car go off the highway on April 4.

A fire crew and officers who went to the scene missed the wreck, which was hidden by tall grass and thick brush in a deep ravine.

One of Ruby's aunts, Rose Lopez, said the Indio Police Department didn't seem to take the family's missing persons report seriously.

"They took the report and kind of dismissed it," she said, adding that officers told Ruby's grandmother her daughter "probably had to just get away."

Indio police Sgt. Richard Banasiak said authorities entered the names of the mother and daughter in a national computer database for missing persons while the family posted fliers throughout the area. He said the search was hampered by the rugged terrain.

"We have so much sympathy for the family, and because of that, naturally, you have this human instinct that maybe we didn't do enough," said CHP Capt. Bob Clark.

The Riverside County coroner's office said Wednesday that Bustamante likely was killed within minutes of the crash by multiple blunt force trauma. She was ejected from the car and suffered severe liver damage and broken ribs, officials said.

But her family says they were told the mother of six dragged herself from the wreck and lived for days.

"This is an outrage. Someone needs to be accountable," Lopez said. "There's no excuse for this young mother to have been left out there to die and a child have to go through such a horrific ordeal."

The needle of the car's speedometer was stuck at 83 mph; tests will determine whether the crash was caused by mechanical failure, CHP Officer Chris Blondon said.