SZUKALA, Joel Anthony

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SZUKALA, Joel Anthony (1959-1974)[#SS573-13-8589], 15-year-old son of Michael Anthony Szukala and Fay Ruth Brassell Szukala (1926-2002), died at Santa Catalina Island. He is buried in Desert Lawn Memorial Park, Calimesa, Riverside County, CA.


In the News~

May 6, 1974 [LBI]: “A 16-year-old Calamesa youth drowned while skindiving off Catalina Island on Sunday when he became entangled in a kelp bed and ran out of oxygen. Joel A. Szukala drowned about two miles west of the island Isthmus, where he had been diving about 1:30 p.m. with friends from the charter boat Californian. A companion, Robert Chase, 16, of Fontana, gave Sukala some of his air then went for help after failing to free him from the kelp. The boy was dead on arrival at Avalon at 2:30 p.m.”


May 7, 1974 [San Bernardino County Sun: “Joel A. Szukala, 15, of 1198 Cherry Lane, Calimesa, died Sunday at Catalina Island. He was born in California and was a seven-year resident of Calimesa. Szukala, a student at Yucaipa High School, was an altar boy at St. Francis X. Cabrini Catholic Church, Yucaipa. Survivors include his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Szukala of Calimesa; two brothers, John J. and Joshua S.; a sister, Joanna G.; maternal grandparents, Joshua S. Brassell of Quartzite, Ariz.; and paternal grandfather, John Szukala of Chicago. Rosary will be at 7:30 P.M. tomorrow at the Emmerson-Bartlett Calimesa Chapel. Mass will be at 9 A.M. Thursday at St. X. Cabrini Catholic Chuirch followed by burial in Desert Lawn Memorial Park, Calimesa.”


May 7, 1974 [Redlands Daily Facts]: “Deaths. Szukala — Died in Catalina Island, Calif. May 5, 1974, Joel Anthony Szukala, 1198 Cherry Lane, Calimesa, aged 15 years, native of California and resident of California for 7 years. Rosary will be recited at 7:30 P.M. Wednesday at the Emmerson-Bartlett, Calimesa Chapel. Requiem Mass Thursday, 9 A.M. at the St. Francis X. Cabrini Catholic church, Rev. John M. Tahany, pastor, officiating. Interment in Desert Lawn Memorial Park.”


December 18, 1974 [San Bernardino County Sun]: “Defunct school named in $850,000 death suit. A Calimesa couple whose 15-year-old son drowned last May has charged a now-defunct San Bernardino scuba-diving school and its instructors with negligence in his death. Mr. and Mrs. Michael A. Szukala filed an $850,000 wrongful death suit Monday in Los Angeles federal court on behalf of their son, Joel, seeking damages from Ronald S. Flory, former owner and operator of the Inland Empire Scuba School, 1598 N. E Street, San Bernardino, and four diving instructors. The school has since gone bankrupt. The youth died May 5 when he went with other members of his scuba class for a practice dive off Santa Catalina Island, according to the suit. Also named as defendants are James and Joyce Milner, owners of the vessel Californian, which was chartered for the trip to Catalina. The suit alleges that the boy was allowed by the defendants to enter "extremely hazardous waters" although they should have known "he was not capable of scuba diving and swimming efficiently enough in the ocean to prevent drowning." The defendants "carelessly and negligently" provided inadequate equipment, failed to provide proper safety procedures and "knowingly and intentionally exposed (him) to unreasonable risks of injury and death" the suit alleges.”