How many people survived November 18?

The number of survivors depends upon one’s definition of “survivor.” Generally on this website, we identify survivors as members of Peoples Temple who were in (or near) Guyana on November 18 and who survived the deaths. That is not an attempt to minimize the anguish and struggles which Temple members in California felt upon hearing of the deaths in Guyana. Rather, that is a much larger, less quantifiable number beyond our abilities to determine.

With that in mind, we can identify 87 Temple members who survived. They included 35 people who began their day in Jonestown:

• Hyacinth Thrash, who slept through the deaths;

• Stanley Clayton, Odell Rhodes, and Grover Cleveland Davis, three black men who (independently of each other) decided not to participate in the deaths;

• Tim Carter, Michael Carter, and Mike Prokes, who were dispatched by the Jonestown leadership to carry money to the Soviet Embassy in Georgetown (Prokes committed suicide four months later);

• 15 defectors – including Larry Layton, who posed as a defector – who accompanied Leo Ryan’s congressional party from Jonestown and who came under attack at the airstrip; and

• 11 Jonestown residents in a party led by Richard Clark who left the community on the morning of 18 November and walked to Matthews Ridge (go here for an FAQ on this group).

• Herbert Newell and Clifford Gieg, who had been dispatched from Jonestown early that morning to take a Temple boat – the Cudjoe – down the Kaituma River for supplies;

Most of the remaining survivors were Temple members in Georgetown. Some were part of the group’s logistical base in Guyana’s capital, some were in the city for business or medical reasons, and some were there to participate in a basketball tournament.

Finally, the list of survivors who were neither in Jonestown nor Georgetown include:

• Helen Swinney, Charlie Touchette, Richard Janaro, and Phil Blakey, who were on another Temple boat – the Albatross III – in the Caribbean;

• Joyce Parks, who was in Venezuela purchasing medical supplies for Jonestown; and

• Claire Janaro, who arrived on the evening of 18 November at the Georgetown airport en route to see her two children in Jonestown, and who heard about Leo Ryan’s assassination on her taxi ride into the city.

The complete list of people who survived appears here.

Last modified on November 21st, 2016.
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