Toddlers drowned 1 day before relatives were to get custody

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LA MESA, Calif. — Two toddlers who died while under their mother’s care in La Mesa on Monday were one day away from going to live with their jailed father’s relatives, it was reported.

The mother of Jason Bradford, 2, and his 16-month-old sister, Harley, said she found the toddlers floating face-down in a backyard swimming pool of a family friend’s home in the 10000 block of Sunset Avenue shortly after 9:30 a.m. Monday, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

The toddlers’ paternal grandfather, Pat Bradford, told U-T San Diego their father’s cousin sought to take in the children and was supposed to gain custody of them on Tuesday. The father, Jason Bradford, is currently serving a 60-month federal prison sentence in Phoenix for conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine, according to court and prison records.

“We’re aware of the custody issues going on with (the mother), related to the kids,” sheriff’s Lt. Glenn Giannantonio told U-T San Diego. “We’re going to look at every angle.”

On Monday, the toddlers’ mother, Tassie Behrens, 26, and an unidentified male companion drove the unconscious toddlers to a nearby fire station. Harley was pronounced dead at Sharp Grossmont Hospital a short time later. Jason was transferred from Sharp to Rady Children’s Hospital, where he died about shortly before 11:30 p.m.

“Sheriff’s investigators will be meeting with the District Attorney’s Office to determine if any criminal charges will be filed relating to the deaths of the children,” Giannantonio said.

Behrens first told investigators the drownings had occurred at a mobile- home park in Spring Valley, but later admitted she lied because she didn’t want her friend to get in trouble for not having a fence around the pool, Giannantonio said.

During a search of the house — where the mother and her children had been staying for several days — deputies came across a marijuana-growing setup in a basement area and called in Narcotics Task Force personnel to investigate, he said.

A resident of the home, Larry Dangelo, 44, was arrested and pleaded not guilty Wednesday to several charges, including two counts of child abuse, manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, cultivating marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, grand theft and two counts of tampering with electric lines.

The child abuse counts relate to the drug charges and not the deaths, a prosecutor told U-T San Diego.


  • joe mama

    Sounds fishy too me. Who cares any way just two more kids the tax payers will never have to support. Amen

    • Bigothater

      It's too bad you didn't drown as a child, you are completely worthless as a person. Die and go to hell with your tax money.

  • SDlove

    Gee joe mama, that's pretty heartless. They're babies, they didn't ask for this. The family was coming to take the children, I don't see anyone asking for support. Don't hate on them just because you have a cold black shriveled heart

  • MelG

    I don't believe this "mother" for a second. One would think if you found your babies face down in a pool, you would call 911 while trying to revive them – NOT hop in your car and take them to a fire station. Plus, lying about where they were found and now her losing custody the next day??? None of this is adding up.

  • anom

    July 18, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    First of all i have been waiting to write a response to all of you disgusting judgemental individuals.The wrong time is told to the public for what reason i do not understand. And the mother was asleep still sleeping from night before didnt oversleep or wake up then go back to sleep and leaving her two alone.what is she suppose to stay up 24/7 to watch her kids that by the way it was only her taking care of help from any family members from ither side.what are parents encouraged to do about babies sleeping arrangements?NOT TO HAVE THEM SLEEP IN BED W YOU AND TO SLEEP IN OWN ROOM AND OWN CRIB OR BED!else why…. BECAUSE IT GETS THEM USED TO SLEEPING W MOM AND ATTATCHMENT w that said they adventured off on their own. Accidents happen to the best of us.And for your info she took her cpr classes.was a lifeguard at one moment in her life.when it comes to ur own you prob would panic.she didnt call 911 because her phone was somewhere upstairs and she literally lived 4 min from hospital and 2 min from you tell me what would u have done if finding ur babies go take the time and go uostairs to look for phone and call 911 which get directed to chp then to dispatcher then about 10-15 min after that emt arrive.or take urself n have help within 5 min.and thank you to the ones who leave comments that are NOT judgemental.I do believe there is only One who has the right to judge and he resides upstairs.Thank you.

    • wendy

      Well put anom some folks have no clue about life you know they are so perfect, however probably never raised kids on their own and I don't even get the first guy these are children you dumbass, and if he is that heartless he is just miserable hope someone close to him or himself have a good accident and become disabled then receive no help see how quickly his attitude changes. If you don't like where your tax dollars go, then go to one of those third world countries where they have no value on human life you are sick

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