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Death in the Sea--Neighbors Stunned by Woman’s Action

Times Staff Writers

“Her babies were everything,” one of Fumiko Kimura’s stunned Tarzana neighbors said Wednesday. “She never had them out of her arms. That little boy was so beautiful, and that little girl was just like a porcelain doll.”

As the neighbor spoke, Kimura remained in serious condition and her baby daughter was barely alive. Santa Monica police said the 32-year-old woman apparently was despondent over marital problems and walked into the sea Tuesday to drown herself and the two children in the tragic manner of her native Japan.

Her son, Kazutaka, 4, died at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica on Tuesday evening after two college students pulled the three unconscious victims from the surf.

Yuri, the 6-month-old girl, was still in critical condition at UCLA Medical Center, where she was said to be on a life-support system.

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Their mother is to be transferred to the jail ward of County-USC Medical Center and booked for investigation of murder and attempted murder as soon as she can be moved, Santa Monica detectives said. At St. John’s, a spokeswoman said she appeared to be improving slightly after intensive treatment for salt water ingestion.

Investigators said the woman was so troubled that she wanted to return to Japan. Her neighbor said she apparently had no money to go there and no one with whom to leave her children.

Her husband, Isuroku Kimura, 40, also was hospitalized and placed in protective custody after he reportedly went into shock.

Some members of the Japanese community in Los Angeles noted that walking into the sea is a fairly well-known method of suicide in Japan and that many children have been drowned when carried into the water by their mothers.

Neighbors Worried

At the Tarzana apartment complex in the 5700 block of Etiwanda Avenue where the family had been living since last May, the neighbor, who did not offer his name, said he and his wife had been worried about the quiet, extremely polite Japanese woman because she had “not been herself” over the apparent trouble with her husband.

She had never talked much, he said, and only bowed and responded when greeted. But four or five days ago, he said, she stopped speaking altogether. “She seemed as if she was very desperate,” the neighbor recalled, “but we had no idea she would try anything like that. It’s just unbelievable. . . .”

Police said Mrs. Kimura apparently took the children by bus to the beach on Tuesday rather than keep an appointment with a pediatrician. Witnesses said that after walking on the cold and dreary beach for a while, she carried Yuri and Kazutaka into the surf near the Santa Monica Pier.

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‘Loved Those Babies’

Loyola Marymount students Nancy Pontius and Kevin Sliva saw the three floating in the surf and waded out fully clothed to pull them to the beach where joggers Brian Hirsch and Arthur Brock gave them cardiopulmonary resuscitation until lifeguards arrived.

“She was just the type of person who you think would never think of such a thing,” her unidentified neighbor said Wednesday. “She lived for those children. She loved those babies so much.”

Officers said her husband is an artist and owner of Tokyo West, a Japanese restaurant in Chatsworth. The couple reportedly married about eight years ago and have lived in this country about six years.

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The neighbor said Mrs. Kimura was reluctant to ask favors and once offered to pay him and his wife if they would watch her children while she went to a doctor’s office. When they insisted on doing it for nothing, he said, she never brought the children around.

“She kept to herself,” he said. “She was very humble and sweet. We liked her so much.”


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