… EVIL HISTORY
From the archives of Elsinore Magazine, this….
…..September 24, 2000 By Gil Rasmussen
On August 17, 2000, Minh-Phuong Tran drowned in the lethal, slimy green waters of Lake Elsinore’s city-operated lake park. The local newspapers ran a brief story on the incident, identifying her only by a partial name, her tender age and her affiliation with her church youth group. But a complete human being lost her life that day; a young woman enjoying life with her friends. I have met with her friends recently and intend to stamp a fuller, permanent imprint of Minh-Phuong’s brief life onto the civic memory of the community that caused her death.
Minh-Phuong Tran was born 18 years ago near the city of Saigon in Vietnam. Now it is officially named Ho Chi Minh City by the North Vietnamese Communists that ended the Vietnam War in 1975 when they overran the South Vietnamese Army and entered Saigon.
She was born to the family of Nam Van Tran, a lieutenant in the National Police force, and her mother, Vo Thi Hue. Her father had been imprisoned by the Communists until his release from prison in 1995. At that time, the family was allowed to immigrate to the U. S. under a Humanitarian project. Minh-Phuong has an older brother and sister who have remained in Vietnam. Living in San Diego until her death, Minh-Phuong also has two brothers and two sisters in her immediate family. She was the middle child. Her family attends the Wesley United Methodist Church of San Diego.
Her Friends and Future
According to Miss Hien Pham, a 20 year old friend of Minh-Phuong, they met in the local neighborhood and attended church and school together. Minh-Phuong had just graduated from Crawford High School in San Diego and was enrolled at Mesa College. She originally wanted to become a school teacher but Hien talked her into becoming a Medical Assistant with her so they could attend the same classes at Mesa.
Minh-Phuong loved to belong to the clubs at her school. She was a part of the United Chinese Asian (UCA) club. She was a member of the soccer team. According to another friend, Miss Khuong Le, Minh-Phuong enjoyed singing, especially at church, “even though her voice was not good.” (Khuong Le giggled at this point, embarrassed at her own comment even as she recalled the happy memory of her friendship with Minh-Phuong). She also loved to dance in the traditional Vietnamese style. Photography was another hobby that she enjoyed.
Her Death in Lake Elsinore
Hien Pham was in the water when Minh-Phuong drowned. According to Hien, she was swimming with a group of about 20 persons, away from a small group of non-swimmers which included Minh-Phuong. The non-swimmers were only waist deep in the water. Suddenly, Hien Pham heard yelling and turned to the cries for help.
Four girls in the wading group had stepped into a deep hole which no one had been able to see and were struggling desperately to get out. Others in the immediate area went to their aid. When everyone was finally out of the “drop off,” they looked around and tried to determine if everyone was accounted for. “Where’s Minh-Phuong?” became the chilling cry for the group of Christian youth.
Hien Pham says that she tried to dive to the bottom of the drop off to find Minh-Phuong but stated that “I could never touch the bottom as it was too deep.” She also said that the water was so dirty that she could not see her hand, mere inches in front of her face. Someone called 911 and police and fire arrived 20-30 minutes later. Finally, after two hours of searching, Minh-Phuong’s body was found.
Hien Pham says that there was only one sign at the park and it only stated that “diving” was not permitted. There were no warning signs whatsoever about the drop off and there was no verbal warning given by any park employee at any time that they were in the park.
Following our conversation, Hien Pham pointed to the sky and said that Minh-Phuong was with Jesus now. It was the sincere and honest reliance on her Christian faith and the stoicism born of a national people that has endured death by the thousands that came through Hien Pham’s acceptance of the death of her friend.
Rest in our Creator’s bosom, Minh-Phuong Tran, beautiful daughter of Asia. May your family and friends never forget your brief passage.
The evil that “was” Lake Elsinore appears to be re-emerging, brought on by the unfortunate melding of thoughtless City Council access with that of a local business interest, which is why “honorable” politicians remain aloof, to a certain extent, from people of commerce.
Now that the bad karma from that relationship appears to have spawned political chaos in Lake Elsinore , whether it be in the form of Chris Hyland’s recall effort to remove Daryl Hickman from office (despite allegations to the contrary, Chris tells me that her recall effort is not connected to any other recall effort), or the collection of a gaggle of political opportunists marching to the discordant beat of EVMWD President Harvey Ryan’s political drum known as A Better Lake Elsinore (“ABLE”), the dissonance has stirred my commentarian soul.
There are old and corrupted, political figures who appear to be ready to rise from their own political ashes amidst the current controversy.
The young Vietnamese woman who died in the murky waters of Lake Elsinore on August 17, 2000, was the fourth of 5 young persons to drown at the hands of the negligent Lake Elsinore City Council, in the span of one year.
I always thought, at the very least, that the then-Lake Elsinore City Council (circa 2000) was guilty of negligent manslaughter, and should have been charged criminally for their failure to prevent repeated and unnecessary drownings.
I think it is important, in the midst of this political chaos, that the citizens of Lake Elsinore take a moment to pause and reflect, on what and whom, they may be unleashing on their city.
It took years to dismantle former-Mayor Gary Washburn’s Political Machine.
It may be as soon as the upcoming election of November 2012, a matter of months, before Lake Elsinore’s angry, yet misguided, voters resurrect it, to the City’s detriment.
Comments can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some of the persons responsible for Minh Phuong’s death are still in your midst.