California · Disasters

Two children drown while playing at dam

July 27, 1947
Hansen Dam, Los Angeles, California
Siblings Patricia and Raymond Thomas accidentally drown during a family picnic trip

Patricia (6) and Raymond (9) were allowed by their father, John M. Thomas, to wade in the water after testing the depth. While the children played, the parents and other relatives prepared lunch and called to the children a short time later. When they didn’t come, the adults assumed they were busy playing and continued without them. When they still hadn’t been seen by the late afternoon, an alarm was raised. Some 200 people combed the area looking for the children through the night but no sign was found.

The following day, Chief Lifeguard F. M. Cox pulled Patricia’s body from the water and unsuccessfully attempted to console Mrs. Thomas as another searcher retrieved the body of Raymond.

The deaths were two of several taking place at the dam that year as the dam was just a shallow reservoir locals used as a recreational area. The city had previously been in the works of making the dam part of the parks and recreation department, and the accidental drownings sped up the need to ensure certain safety precautions were in place.

Pictured, left to right: Patricia’s body, Chief Lifeguard Cox, Mrs. Thomas

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