Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 12:43 am | Mostly Cloudy 65º


Local News

Full Recovery Expected for Toddler Burned in Vehicle Fire

A 3-year-old girl who was burned in a vehicle fire two weeks ago is doing well and should make a full recovery, a family friend told Noozhawk this week.

Susie Figueroa, who turned 3 last week, is still at a Santa Ana burn center receiving treatment for third-degree burns on her face, hands and feet after her parents’ minivan caught fire on Santa Teresita Drive in Santa Barbara on Feb. 25.

According to authorities, the girl had been left alone in the minivan while her mother, Viviana Wink, 29, entered a nearby home where she worked as a caretaker. Wink returned to find the minivan on fire, police Sgt. Riley Harwood said.

A neighbor noticed the vehicle on fire and tried to put out the flames with a hose before firefighters arrived.

Someone unbuckled the toddler from the minivan car seat, and firefighters made quick work of the flames, which had spread to vegetation nearby. The girl and her mother were both burned.

Police and fire personnel are trying to determine the cause of the blaze and other circumstances, Harwood said.

“We’ve sent over the police investigation part to the DA’s Office for review,” he said. “However, whatever outcome fire comes to, that will likely prompt us to then do an initial follow-up investigation.”

The District Attorney’s Office is still waiting on reports from the Santa Barbara Fire Department to decide if any criminal charges will be filed in the case, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Lee Carter.

At this point, criminal investigations are centered on Wink since there seem to be no other involved parties, Harwood said. Potential issues range from leaving a child unattended to child endangerment, he said.

Susie has had four or five surgeries already, and has mostly been kept sedated, said Riley Ramirez, a family friend.

“She had been under some sort of sedative because the first few attempts to wake her, she tried to pull out all the tubes and get out of bed; because her eyes were swollen and shut, she could only hear and not see, so it scared her,” he said.

The family says the car caught fire as soon as it was parked, and Wink struggled to get her daughter out of the vehicle.

Ramirez said the family is still dealing with the “emotional situation,” but friends from church have been helping out with meals, raising money for new car seats and other support.

Family members drove down to Orange County for Susie’s birthday, bringing gifts and a card signed by her friends, Ramirez said.

“She is healing well and should have a full recovery and be out soon,” he said. “Her cheeks are slowly recovering, and her forehead is still a little bandaged, but a lot of the other bandages have been removed to let the skin start healing.”

Business First Bank, where Ramirez works, has raised about $1,000 and has a jar for any members of the public who want to contribute. The family’s Nueva Vida Church at 5272 Hollister Ave. is also accepting donations.

“The community has definitely come together for them with a bunch of support,” Ramirez said. “David, the dad, took the other two kids down to Santa Ana Friday to be together.”

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >