by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com
VICTORVILLE — The City of Victorville honored FilAm Claro Claridad posthumously during a City Council meeting last Tuesday, Feb. 19.
Victorville Mayor Terry Caldwell awarded Claro’s widow Judith two plaques for heroism in front of a large crowd that included their four daughters, friends and relatives.
Caldwell read the citation and declared the 41-year-old Filipino a hero of the city. He said the honor is bittersweet.
“We’re always proud to single out people,” said Caldwell. “It’s difficult for all of us when the person that we honor can’t be here.”
Caldwell earlier asked the audience to reflect on their own lives.
“We are all brothers and sisters,” he said. “We are all connected in this life. We need to always come prepared to the aid of our neighbors, co-workers, even strangers. This individual took it upon himself to do what he could to save someone’s life.”
After the presentation of the plaques, everyone gave Claro’s widow Judith and family a standing ovation.
“I think of Claro and all he has taught me and I realize how much we have lost,” said Judith to the audience. “My children lost a very good father but they have gained a hero in their lives and in their hearts. Thank you for the honor you have given my husband. I truly feel that he deserves to be proclaimed a hero.”
Claro died of hypothermia on Christmas Day when he tried to save kids, who accidentally fell into a frozen lake.
Claro was playing with his own children at Wrightwood when a few kids playing on the frozen lake broke through the ice and fell into the water.
The US Army veteran walked out on the frozen ice to assist the other adults and help the children get out of the water.
Everyone got out unharmed, but Claro tripped and fell into the water. He went under the surface and could not get out.
Rescue divers located Claro after a short search nine feet below the surface.
Authorities attempted cardio- pulmonary resuscitation. However, efforts to resuscitate him failed. He was pronounced dead at 5:05 pm.
It’s been a little less than two months since Claro’s death and his family is still grieving.
Claro’s mother Amelia Claridad-Oliveria said their family is trying to cope with their loss.
“[Claro] is a good son,” she said. “He’s a devoted family man, a good provider, good father and good husband.”
She said she misses him everyday.
“He called me everyday,” she said. “He always called me and said I love you. He always asked me to go to his house. He’s so sweet always kissing me. I love him and miss him.”
Claro’s widow Judith still has not met the children Claro saved.
“The families of the children are probably scared of a lawsuit but we’re not going to take any legal action. I just want to know who they are and what really happened. I’m just looking for some closure.”
Judith said that she would continue to pursue her and her husband’s plans for their children.
“I need to make sure they all go to college,” she said.
Friends of Claro Claridad have established a fund to care for his wife and children. He left behind a wife, Judith, and five children.
(For donations please deposit to Judith Claridad & Children Fund Washington Mutual Account Number: (340) 313- 5523.)