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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Kathy Fiscus update


1949_0411_yancey

Some local media outlets are reporting the death of former Pasadena firefighter Walter Patrick Ireland, saying he was the lone volunteer in an attempt to rescue Kathy Fiscus, a 3-year-old who fell down an abandoned well in San Marino in 1949.

The Daily Mirror extends its deepest sympathies to the Ireland family on what must surely be a painful loss. But alas, the historic record reflects an entirely different account than what is being reported. Above, a Times photograph of Bill Yancey carrying Kathy's body as he is lifted to the surface. Yancey died April 29, 1958, in the collapse of an unreinforced trench.  He was 47.

1949_0411_fiscus1958_0430_yancey01
1958_0430_yancey02

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Comments (3)

I have the Examiner front page right in front of me....it says Yancey......photo credited to Examiner staff photog Joseph Rustan

I was 12 years-old and growing up in Fullerton at the time. We had the only TV set in the neighborhood then and it seemed like half of our neighbors came over and watched the tragedy unfold all night long. That was the time when complete strangers would knock on our door and ask if they could watch tevevision. They would sit and stare at the Indian test pattern for hours until regular programing started in the late afternoon. I think that at the time, L.A. only had two stations broadcasting, and either Stan Chambers or Bill Welch was on the mike. It was one of the first, if not the first remote ever broadcast from the field. If you sat through it, you'll never forget the impact the sad ending had on all of us.

I was a 1 1/2 year old baby when this tragedy took place. We lived not far from the scene. My father related the story to me, and many of my relatives gave details of the event. Why anyone would leave OPEN well holes ANYWHERE is beyond me.


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