Father Files Lawsuit in La Mesa Tots' Drowning

Tassie Behrens awoke to find her children's lifeless bodies in the pool of a La Mesa home

The father of two toddlers that drowned in the backyard pool of a La Mesa home last year has filed a lawsuit against the tots' mother, boyfriend and the homeowner.

The Medical Examiner's report noted that, even at the tender age of two, Jason Jr. showed more compassion and more maturity than his mother Tassie Behrens.

When the toddler tried to wake his mom, telling her his 16-month old sister Harley was missing on the morning of May 13, 2013, the report states his mother told him to go back to sleep.

Behrens later awoke to her children's lifeless bodies in the pool of a La Mesa home where she was staying on Sunset.

She is now in custody, facing charges in their deaths.

The children's father, Jason Michael Bradford, has filed a lawsuit alleging the landlord of the home didn't have proper safety equipment around the pool of the home.

Bradford, the man listed as the father on one of the toddlers' birth certificates, was sentenced to a two-year state prison term in 2011 for motorcycle theft.

“He wasn’t there at the time to be with his children and they were being taken care of by Mom and she didn’t do her job,” said attorney Jeffrey Greenman.

Greenman is one of the attorneys representing Bradford in a recently filed lawsuit claiming negligence against the landlord, the children's mother and her friend.

The suit notes Behrens and her friend Larry Deangelo, who was renting the home, used it as a marijuana growhouse while the children were inside.

The suit claims landlord Terrence Mann is culpable in the children's deaths because a fence wasn’t put up around the pool - a possible violation of California's Safe Pools Act requiring fences around pools.

"Pool deaths happen annually if we’re not safe and proactive about our own properties that tragedy can happen in a blink of an eye," exclaimed Purdy.

NBC 7 went to the landlord's El Cajon business for comment. He wasn't available.

The children's mother is behind bars and facing drug and child endangerment charges.

After discovering the toddlers, Behrens and a friend did not call 911 but rather decided put the children in a pickup truck and drove to a nearby hospital.

They arrived at La Mesa Fire Station 13, approximately 15 minutes away, where paramedics treated the children and transported them and the mother to Grossmont Hospital.

Officials said Behrens later told them she lied to protect her friend from getting in trouble for failing to enclose the pool.

When officials arrested Behrens four months later, they told NBC 7 they believed the mother lied to officials about the location of the drownings in order to prevent investigators from discovering a marijuana grow.

The children's father was in Arizona where he lived when his children died.

Contact Us