Toddlers' Mother Lied to Protect Friend: Officials

Officials dismantled large pot grow at home where toddlers drowned

Investigators are searching for the man who fled after dropping off two critically-injured children at a La Mesa fire station Monday.

In the meantime, there are still questions about why the children’s mother risked their lives to help protect that friend.

A one-year-old girl, Harley Bradford and her 2-year-old brother Jason have died after both were found unconscious in a swimming pool. Harley died shortly after the incident and Jason was pronounced dead late Monday night.

Initially, deputies were looking for clues at the Lamplighter Village mobile home park in Spring Valley.

That was not where the two children were injured though. Investigators say the victim's mother lied to protect a friend.

The toddlers' mother was staying at a friend's home on Sunset Avenue near the base of Mount Helix. At around 9:45 a.m., she awakened and realized she couldn't find her children.

The two toddlers were then found unresponsive at the bottom of a back yard pool, officials said.

Instead of calling 911, the mother and a friend put the children in a pickup truck and decided to drive to a nearby hospital.

She and her friend drove the children to La Mesa Fire Station 13, approximately 15 minutes away. Paramedics treated the children and transported them and the mother to Grossmont Hospital.

Harley died around 10:30 a.m. shortly after she was transported to the hospital. Jason died at Rady Children's Hospital around 11:30 p.m. Monday. His family elected to withdraw care because of his grave condition, according to the Medical Examiner's office.

Investigators are stilling looking for the pickup driver who disappeared from the firehouse on foot.

The children's mother later told investigators she lied to protect her friend from getting in trouble for failing to enclose the pool. That may not be the whole truth either.

Investigators arrested Larry Dangelo at the Sunset Avenue home Monday evening. Deputies say they confiscated thousands of dollars in unprocessed marijuana and all the equipment used in the sophisticated growing operation.

The home is a rental and worth over a million dollars, however investigators described it more like a greenhouse inside. Dangelo, 44, was arrested (see image right) but not in connection to the children's deaths.

He was charged with marijuana possession, damaging a powerline, cultivating marijuana and grand theft.

Neighbor Carmen Young walks her dog Spike daily and said she has always been suspicious of the house.

“It's really, really closed up all the time. The bushes are too high. It's not kept up like the rest of the homes here,” Young said.

Sheriff's investigators said there is no evidence of foul play as of now, but they will meet with the District Attorney's Office to determine if any criminal charges will be filed relating to the deaths of the children.

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