On the afternoon of December 14th, 1963, with swift suddenness, improbable tragedy struck Los Angeles.
In less than two hours, a "river of muddy hell" from a seemingly placid reservoir would take 5 lives as automobiles, fragments of houses and chunks of concrete caught in floodwaters from the Baldwin Hills Dam collapse impacted what minutes before had been a quiet Saturday-relaxed community.
Above the rushing water, television station KTLA would earn the distinction of broadcasting the world's first live aerial coverage of a disaster in progress, as unwary residents trapped on roofs, in second floor rooms and on small insecure islands of debris, signaled desperately for help.
And help was swift to come.
Unique in the rescue effort was the work of the three Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter pilots dispatched to the scene. Their unique story and role in the LAFD's rescue of 18 residents whose fate was all-but-sealed, is best told through excerpts of the official report of Battalion Chief Lynn W. Nelson... (read more...)
Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department