CALIFORNIA CITY, CA - Witnesses call it a tragedy in California City. According to Kern County Sheriff's deputies, a two-year-old boy was found dead on the side of a road in the arms of his mother's boyfriend.
Witnesses say the man and toddler were found eight miles north of California City. The Sheriff's Department says they were picked up by a concerned bus driver, whose route took a drastic turn Wednesday morning.
"I just feel bad for the baby," said Chris Osegura who was riding the bus to work.
"It's sad anytime because he is innocent you know," said Charlene Day who was also riding the bus.
According to authorities, the sad moment started on a Regional Transit bus at 7:26 a.m. Wednesday morning.
"It was one of those Twilight Zone moments, you know," said Day.
Witnesses say the county bus was headed from Ridgecrest to California City when the driver suddenly stopped in the middle of the desert.
"The driver saw him, a man laying on the side of the road. It just looked like he had a blanket in the fetal position," said Day.
Concerned witnesses said the bus driver helped the man get on the bus.
"He was panicking but he jumped on the bus and said 'take me to town, take me to town'," said Day.
The Sheriff's Department says the bus driver realized the man was carrying a child. Deputies say the man told the driver the child was having medical complications and not breathing. Authorities say the driver called 911 then began driving to California City.
"We called 911 right then before we even started moving again," said Day.
"The guy was on the bus rocking him back and forth," said Osegura.
The bus then met police and an ambulance at the intersection of Neuralia Road and California City Boulevard, but it was too late for the toddler.
"I think he was deceased when he got on the bus," said Day. "He was all bruised. His forehead was bruised real bad."
Sheriffs deputies said the child was pronounced dead at the intersection by paramedics. Deputies say during their investigation they learned the man was not the toddler's father, but rather the boy's mother's live-in boyfriend.
Authorities said the man was taken in for questioning, but so far the boy's death has not been ruled a homicide, and the man has not been arrested.
Along Neuralia Road where the man and child were picked up, deputies said they were searching for the man's car.
"I think it's very tragic, the death of a child and very unnecessary," said Osegura.
Deputies say the mother is from California City, but they are not releasing any names.
The Kern County coroner is scheduled to perform an autopsy.