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Mother who lost children in flood: 'I don't think you ever get over it — ever, ever, ever'

Ron and LaVonne Masters (seated), with their daughter Karen Westerfield Masters.
From the book 'Surviving the '72 Flood'
Johnny Sundby Photography
Ron and LaVonne Masters (seated), with their daughter, Karen Westerfield Masters.

The attached audio above is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment.

The 50th anniversary of the 1972 Black Hills Flood is June 9th. It’s a time to honor the 238 lives lost, and it also brings a flood of memories for survivors. Every week between now and the anniversary, SDPB is featuring stories from those survivors, in their own words.

This week, we hear from the Masters family. They were trying to escape the flood in their vehicle when a wall of water swept them off the road. The family’s three boys, 12-year-old Stephen, 8-year-old Jonathan, and 2-year-old Timothy, all died.

Pastor Ron Masters, his wife, LaVonne, and their daughter, Karen, clung to trees in the water and survived.

They discovered in the morning that the family’s other child, JoAnn, survived in an air pocket inside the submerged vehicle.

Ron, LaVonne and Karen tell this story from the banks of Rapid Creek, near their former home in Rapid City.

An SDPB documentary about the 1972 flood is in production now. Stay tuned for information about that this spring.

Seth supervises SDPB's beat reporters and newscast team. He works at SDPB's Black Hills Studio in Rapid City.