Ryan McDonald

Hermosa woman found dead along beach amidst high surf

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Hermosa Beach Police and L.A. County Lifeguards investigate after the body of Margaret Brinker-Brown washed ashore Thursday afternoon.


by Kevin Cody and Ryan McDonald

Margaret Brinker-Brown, a 46-year Hermosa Beach-resident, was found dead on the beach Thursday, apparently after drowning in rough surf.

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The body of Brinker-Brown, 71, washed ashore at 25th Street, according to Sgt. Mick Gaglia of the Hermosa Beach Police Department. Police received several calls from residents and found the body about 12:20 p.m.

There were no signs of foul play. Gaglia said. A cause of death determination is pending from the coroner, and local police are conducting interviews.

Brinker-Brown left her North Hermosa home to go for a walk about 9 a.m., said her husband Gary Brown. Though it was not raining when she left, he told her to take an umbrella because of the foul weather.

“When she left, she said, ‘See you for lunch, I love you,’ and she gave me a kiss,” Brown said.

His wife, Brown said, had “some health issues, but nothing life-threatening.” She often went for walks, and had gone for a 45-minute walk the day before, Brown said. Her typical route took her from their home to the Manhattan Beach Pier, sometimes going along the Strand and sometimes along the shore.

Stormy ocean conditions prevailed Thursday morning, with onshore winds, periodic rain, and choppy seas with occasional waves in excess of 5 feet. Water temperatures were in the high 50s.

Brown grew worried when he looked outside about 10 a.m. and saw that it was raining hard. He tried calling his wife on her cell phone, but she did not respond, and he eventually called the police department.

“I called and called. After the third call, I couldn’t take it,” he said.

When officers at the police department said they did not have her at the station, he told them when she had gone out and gave a physical description.

He then attempted to call his wife once more..

“A guy answers, ‘Higgins, HBPD.’ I apologized and said ‘I redialed you by mistake, I was calling my wife,’” Brown said. “He said, ‘We found the phone on the beach.’ And he asked me to come to the station. He said they’d found someone.”

The two had been married 46 years, and lived in the same house in Hermosa since 1971, Brown said. Margaret just turned 71 They had one son and three grandchildren, who live next door in a house Brown built.

Margaret had worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District for 36 years, most recently as a principal at Manchester Avenue Elementary School.


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