MORENO VALLEY, Calif. -- A 6-year-old girl found in a ravine survived for 10 days on dry noodles and Gatorade while remaining near her dead mother following a car crash, relatives said.
Ruby Bustamante was in good condition yesterday at a hospital where she was recovering from dehydration.
''She's a strong little girl, strong, real strong," Juan Morin, Ruby's uncle, said.
Her great-grandfather Bill Cooney said she didn't appear to remember much about the crash in which her mother, 26-year-old Norma Bustamante, was killed.
State transportation department workers repairing a road barrier Tuesday found the girl, her mother's decomposing body and a wrecked Ford Taurus 150 feet down a ravine off the 60 Freeway, some 70 miles east of Los Angeles, said a California Highway Patrol spokesman.
Cooney said Ruby told him she survived on ramen noodles and Gatorade. The Riverside County coroner's office said yesterday an autopsy indicated Bustamante probably died within minutes of the accident from blunt force trauma.
''She didn't say much beyond 'I want some water,' " said Gerry Magnuson, who helped rescue her.
Norma Bustamante, of Indio, had five other children ranging in age from 8 months to 8 years, said relatives, who described her as a doting parent.
Cooney criticized the California Highway Patrol and other authorities for not searching for Bustamante and her daughter when they were first reported missing April 4.
Sergeant Richard Banasiak of the Indio Police Department said authorities entered the two names in a national computer database for missing persons and the family posted flyers throughout the area.