Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Mother’s Failed Suicide and the Drowning Deaths of her Children

Fumiko Kimura with children. Family photo.

The sun was out but the temperature was chilly on Tuesday, January 29, 1985 as Loyola Marymount University students Nancy Pontius and Kevin Silva strolled along the seashore of the Santa Monica, California beach. Suddenly they noticed something thick and dark atop the water; at first they thought they might be looking at a mass of seaweed.

The puzzled college students motioned to joggers Brian Hirsch and Arthur Brock to stop. All four stared at the configuration in the water.

One of the joggers climbed on the other’s shoulders to get a better look, and then exclaimed, “It looks like a body!”

An arm flew up, confirming this observation.

After a quick conference, it was agreed that the joggers would try to get other help while Nancy and Kevin attempted an immediate rescue.

The joggers ran to phone authorities.

Nancy and Kevin raced fully clothed into the water.

Kevin grabbed a six-month-old baby and carried her to the shore. Nancy took hold of a four-year-old boy.
Then Kevin waded back into the water and pulled out the children’s mother, Fumiko Kimura, 32.

While Kevin was in the water, Nancy held the childrens’ hands. Of Yuri, she recalled, “I felt at that moment like that baby was my baby.”
The eyes of all three people pulled from the water were open and staring as Kevin and Nancy frantically began clearing foam out of their mouths and pushing on their bellies.

“Live! Live! Please, live!” Nancy screamed.

Rushed to the hospital, all three were alive on arrival. Four-year-old Kazutaka died later that day.

Medical personnel found that six-month-old Yuri suffered brain damage when she arrived at the hospital. She was listed in critical condition and put on a life-support system.

She died four days later on February 2.

Only Fumiko recovered. There were reports that she was not grateful to her rescuers, bitterly saying, “They must have been Caucasians. Otherwise, they would have let me die.”

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