|CBS8 San Deigo.
Here’s an awful situation no matter which way you view it. One-year-old Harley Bradford and her two-year-old brother, Jason, are dead after their mother found them both face down in a San Diego area swimming pool just before 10 a.m. on Monday morning. The children’s mother has yet to be charged with a crime.
The mother, identified as Tessie Behrens by CBS8 San Deigo, claims that she could not find her kids when she awoke at the home of a family friend around 9:30 a.m. Searching frantically, she found them both unconscious in the pool.
Instead of immediately calling 911, she loaded the incapacitated children into the homeowner’s pickup truck and sped away from the home. She didn’t take them to nearby Sharp Grossmont Hospital though; instead she dropped the children at the La Mesa Fire Department.
Lt. Glenn Giannantonio of the La Mesa Sheriff’s office told reporters that the children’s mother and an adult male showed up in the truck just after 10 a.m., begging for help for the kids. The male then inexplicably ran away, leaving the woman, the kids, and the truck at the fire station.
Paramedics at the station tried to resuscitate the helpless victims, but were forced to rush them to Sharp Grossmont Hospital, where Harley Bradford was pronounced dead. Her brother was transferred to Rady Children’s Center for more intensive care, but was also pronounced dead early Tuesday morning.
While being questioned by authorities, the mother initially lied and said that the incident took place in a trailer park in Spring Valley, but soon admitted that the actual address was on Sunset Avenue in La Mesa. She told investigators that she lied to protect the homeowner, since they did not have a fence around their pool.
Meanwhile, back at the fire station, detectives had identified the owner of the pickup truck (and presumably the man who took off running) as Larry D’Angelo. When investigators converged on the home on Sunset Avenue to check things out, they uncovered a marijuana growing operation in the basement.
It was local law enforcement who discovered the pot, but when they realized that California’s medical marijuana laws might disrupt their investigation, federal Narcotics Task Force agents were called in to turn a blind eye to local laws.
D’Angelo was detained and is being held on $50,000 bail, facing felony charges of cultivation, possession, and intent to distribute marijuana, as well as the attempted manufacture of a controlled substance and grand theft. He will be arraigned Thursday afternoon.
Police have no reason to suspect foul play in the apparent accidental drowning of the children, which really only leaves gross negligence. Not only did the pool reportedly not have a fence around it, the woman knew it and still let her kids wander around unsupervised. Then, instead of calling 911 or taking the kids to the nearby hospital, they took their kids to a fire station no doubt hoping to keep the grow operation a secret.
Yes, it also points to a much larger problem in society as well: If the basement bud farm wasn’t enough to ruin someone’s life, would the woman have called 911? We’re not saying the kids would be alive right now if that had been the case, but there wouldn’t be a huge doubt and suspicion hanging over our heads either.
Ordinary people do messed up things when messed up things become ordinary. Hopefully if anyone finds themselves in a similar situation in the future, they will remember this case not for the shots of the grower being led away in handcuffs, but for the memories of two lives lost much too soon.
Local news coverage, here:
San Diego, California News Station – KFMB Channel 8 – cbs8.com