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Judith Claridad sits with her four children at her home in Victorville. Judith's husband lost his life saving children who would have drown in a lake that was frozen over.

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Memorial slated for local father, hero

If you go:

Who: The family of Claro Claridad

What: Claro died saving the lives of two young children on Christmas Day, 2007

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: On the corner of Lone Pine Canyon Road and Highway 2, if weather permits. In case of Inclement weather, the ceremony will be held at the Wrightwood Community Center, 1275 Park Dr. in Wrightwood.

Why: Organizers of this long-awaited memorial hope this will bring closure to the Claridad family.

VICTORVILLE • Judith Claridad no longer holds back tears when she thinks about the loss of her husband. She's been busy creating her own sense of closure that so long eluded her and her four daughters.

But on Sunday, the elusive sense of closure will finally come for the Claridad family. Officials from San Bernardino County and the town of Wrightwood will present the family with a plaque — a memorial that has been in the works for four and half years, according to Julie Norton one of the founders of the High Desert Phoenix Foundation.

Claridad lost her husband, Claro, on Christmas Day five years ago after saving the lives of two youngsters who fell through an iced-over lake in Wrightwood.

According to Claridad, her two eldest daughters bore witness to the incident and the holidays are difficult — particularly for Careena and Cariah, who were 6 and 7 at the time. However, the family had a tradition of festively celebrating the holidays. And even after that fateful day in 2007, the holidays are still cherished in the Claridad’s home, which has been painstakingly decorated from floor to ceiling in red and green.

“I’ve moved on,” says Claridad calmly. “But I want to keep moving on with his legacy. That’s how we heal.”

When trying to get a memorial erected, however, Norton hit some bumps in the road, when she learned that the forestry service did not want to place a memorial at the site of his death because she was told that it would “set a precedent.”

“Of course it would set a precedent, isn’t that what we want?” Norton said. “He saved children from drowning. It should be a precedent.”

Norton said that instead of setting a memorial up at Jackson Lake where Claro contracted hypothermia and died, a bench will be placed on a trail at the corner of Lone Pine Road and Highway 2.

“I’m thrilled,” Norton said of the memorial and the services. “It’s going to be great.”

Chuck Carroll, chairman of the Wrightwood Municipal Advisory Council and president of the Wrightwood Fire Safe Council, said that the event Sunday, which is open to the public, will include music, singing and a surprise visit from Santa for the children.

“It’s going to be a positive and happy thing,” Carroll said. “It’ll be upbeat. We don’t want any tears or anything like that.”

Claridad said that she has always tried to instill a sense of faith and positivity in her girls, because that is what her husband would have wanted.

“Claro taught me how to love,” Claridad said. “His life is shining on us now. I don’t want to stress about life. There’s only a better tomorrow. It’s a choice — and my choice is to be happy. I think he really deserves this.”

Lynnea Lombardo may be reached at (760) 951-6232 or at

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