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Small toys that little hands once played with remain outside of the fire damaged apartment. / Laura Austin Photo

2-year-old dead, Trona mother arrested for murder

By Laura Austin  News Review Staff Writer– A 26-year-old mother in Trona was arrested for Homicide, and Child Abuse Causing Great Bodily Injury.

Two toddlers were pulled from their home at the 13400 block of Athol  Street in Trona Monday evening, January 16 at 5:39 PM when a fire engulfed their dwelling. 

San Bernardino County Fire Firefighters Station 57 and Deputies, with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office (SBSO) arrived within less than five minutes to find fire and smoke coming from one unit of a four-unit apartment complex. Upon further investigation, they discovered two toddlers, 2-year-old Catalena Fusaro and her 11-month-old brother, who were pulled from the home when a fire had erupted within the dwelling. Station 57  coordinator Bruce Groves and his wife, Firefighter Susan Groves, immediately assessed the children and found them not breathing. Firefighter Groves started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) a life-saving measure for nearly 45 minutes. 

 As the medical personnel were administering CPR, 911 operators were dispatching mutual aid from the Kern County Fire Department and Ridgecrest Regional Hospital’s Liberty Ambulance out of Ridgecrest. The estimated time of arrival was approximately 25 to 30 minutes.

 Emergency workers continued medical treatment to keep the children stable while waiting for the advanced medical team to arrive from Ridgecrest.  The children were then were transported by Liberty Ambulance with an escort from SBSO to Ridgecrest Regional Hospital. 

  Despite their valiant efforts, two-year-old Catalena was pronounced deceased a short time later.   Her 11-month-old brother who was in critical condition was transported via airship to Loma Linda Trauma Center in Riverside, CA.

  Investigators from the SBSO Specialized Investigations Division, Homicide Detail, responded to the scene and are conducting the investigation.

  The Detectives learned that the children were home alone when the fire broke out. The children’s mother, Nikita Magby, was arrested and booked at the High Desert Detention Center for Homicide, and Child Abuse Causing Great Bodily Injury.  The investigation is continuing and further information will be released when available.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff‘s Department request that anyone having information about this case to please contact Detective Michael Roth, Specialized Investigations Division at (909) 890-4904. Callers can remain anonymous and contact We-Tip at 800-78CRIME or