Latest on California mudslides: Mexican woman, 2 children died in slides
January 11, 2018
The Latest on the California mudslide disaster (all times local):
A Mexican woman says her 27-year-old sister, her 3-year-old niece and the girl’s 10-year-old cousin died when pre-dawn mudslides hit the home they were renting in Montecito.
Jennifer Ramos says Marilyn Ramos shared the home with her husband, Antonio Benitez, and the family of his brother, Victor Benitez.
The Benitez brothers survived. But Victor Benitez lost one of his sons, 10-year-old Jonathan Benitez, and his wife, Fabiola, is missing.
Jennifer Ramos says the Benitez brothers and Victor Benitez’s 2-year-old son is in the hospital with injuries.
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The Benitez brothers are gardeners.
Jennifer Ramos says Marilyn Ramos called home daily to her family in her native town of Marquelia near Acapulco on Mexico’s Pacific coast.
She says Marilyn Ramos doted on her only child, Kailly.
The partner of one of the people killed in the California mudslides says the victim had just enough time to shout, “‘grab onto some wood and don’t let go.'” before he was swept to his death.
Authorities announced Thursday that 73-year-old Peter Fleurat was among those who died in Montecito.
He and his partner of 17 years, Ralph “Lalo” Barajas, were swept out of their home before dawn Tuesday by the devastating slide.
Barajas, owner of a Santa Barbara restaurant, survived with cuts and bruises and a sprained neck.
The huge wildfire that led to this week’s devastating debris flows in Montecito, California, is finally 100 percent contained.
The U.S. Forest Service made the announcement Friday after aerial surveys of the 440-square-mile (1,140-square-kilometer) scar left by the so-called Thomas fire.
The fire erupted Dec. 4 in Ventura County, destroying hundreds of homes before it spread into Santa Barbara County and threatened more communities including Montecito.
It continued to smolder before a drenching Pacific storm hit bare hills and mountains this week, unleashing debris-laden flash floods that swept away homes and killed at least 17 people.
The Thomas fire was the largest wildfire in recorded California history.
Southern California authorities say the number of people missing since debris-laden flash floods smashed through the community of Montecito is now five, down from as many as 43 a day earlier.
Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Amber Anderson released the latest number early Friday.
Anderson says the number dropped because people were located, but it could continue to fluctuate greatly.
She says some missing-person reports are rapidly cleared while others take a long time to resolve.
The number of confirmed fatalities remains at 17.
Anderson says the number of personnel searching ravaged neighborhoods has doubled over the past day to 1,250.
Thursday, Jan. 11
The oldest victim swept away in a California mudslide was Jim Mitchell, who had celebrated his 89th birthday the day before. H e died with his wife of more than 50 years, Alice.
The youngest, 3-year-old Kailly Benitez, was one of four children killed.
As their names and those of 14 other victims were released Thursday, crews kept digging through the muck and rubble looking for more people.
Santa Barbara fire Capt. Gary Pitney said the likelihood is increasing that rescue crews will be finding bodies instead of survivors at this point.
The mudslide swept through the coastal community of Montecito on Tuesday morning, catching many of the victims entirely off-guard.
A surgeon has been identified as one of the 17 people killed when flash floods and mudslides tore through a Southern California neighborhood.
Dr. Mark Montgomery was a member of the Santa Barbara College Hospital medical staff.
Hospital spokeswoman Maria Zarte says Montgomery was an orthopedic surgeon with a subspecialty in hand surgery.
The 54-year-old Montgomery graduated from Princeton University and Columbia University Medical School.
His daughter, Caroline Montgomery, was also killed.
Fourteen beaches in Santa Barbara County are closed to swimmers because of contamination from deadly floods in the coastal foothills.
County health officials announced Thursday that ocean bacterial levels are above standard levels along dozens of miles of coast, from Gaviota state beach to Carpinteria state beach.
Until further notice, visitors can walk the sands but they’re urged to stay out of the water because storm and mudslide runoff may have brought raw sewage and chemicals to the sea.
Even wrecked cars have been swept onto beaches.
Meanwhile, a mandatory evacuation zone was expanded Thursday to keep the public out of the way of rescue and relief efforts in mudslide-stricken Montecito.
County Sheriff Bill Brown says residents can expect to be out of their homes for a week or more.
There’s been another significant adjustment in the number of people reported missing in the deadly mudslides along the California coast.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a Thursday news conference that 43 people now are reported missing.
Earlier in the day, the number was 48, then authorities said that was a clerical error and the real figure was eight.
Brown said the latest number includes active missing- persons cases being worked by detectives. But it also encompasses those who have been named in calls to the operations center and family assistance center.
Brown says those people may simply have left the area before or after the mudslides or may just be out of touch with the family and friends looking for them.
At least 17 people were killed and hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed when mudslides tore through Montecito early Tuesday.
Authorities have released the names of 17 people killed by mudslides in California.
The Santa Barbara County coroner’s office says the victims range in age from 3 to 89 and all are residents of Montecito.
The mudslides roared through the coastal city early Tuesday as heavy rain fell on a huge area of hills and mountains burned by a December wildfire.
The search for additional possible victims is continuing.
The company that employs the mother of a 1 4-year-old girl who was dramatically pulled from a California home that collapsed in a mudslide says the girl’s father and 16-year-old brother are still missing.
NeoTract, a maker of devices used in the medical field of urology, has launched a fundraising page asking for financial support for the family of Kim Cantin.
Cantin’s 14-year-old daughter, Lauren, was rescued by firefighters this week after being trapped for hours. The house was flattened hours earlier by the deadly storm-triggered mudslide that ravaged the Montecito area.
“I thought I was dead for a minute,” the dazed girl, covered in mud, told firefighters before she was taken away in an ambulance.
NeoTract’s GoFundMe post says her father and brother are still missing.
A well-known local real estate agent has been identified as one of the 17 people killed after flash floods and mudslides tore through a Southern California neighborhood.
Rebecca Riskin, the founder of Riskin Partners, was killed when mudslides ripped through Montecito. Her company confirms her death in a statement posted Wednesday night on Facebook.
The statement says Riskin was an “exceptional woman” who had exuded strength, grace and elegance.
Officials said Thursday morning that eight people remained missing after Tuesday’s storm.
Southern California authorities have corrected the number of people missing since the Montecito mudslides to eight.
The correction follows an early Thursday update that raised the number to 48, but the incident management team then issued retraction saying there h ad been a clerical error.
The number of confirmed fatalities remains at 17.
The number of people missing after the deadly mudslides in Montecito, California, has surged to 48.
Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Amber Anderson says the new number tallied Thursday follows sheriff’s investigations of missing-persons reports.
The number of missing persons has fluctuated since the disaster hit early Tuesday morning and had been as low as 16 on Wednesday evening.
Anderson says the number of confirmed fatalities remains at 17.
The deadly mudslides that hit Montecito, California, were already occurring when Santa Barbara County officials first sent emergency alerts to cellphones in the area.
County emergency manager Jeff Gater tells the Los Angeles Times that the alert issued around 3:50 a.m. Tuesd ay was sent because of deteriorating conditions and followed one issued by the National Weather Service.
For days beforehand, the county had issued repeated warnings through social media, news media and community information emails about the potential for mudflows from the huge wildfire scar in the hills above neighborhoods.
Gater tells the Times more than 200,000 emails and other warnings were issued, but the county decided not to use the push alert system to cellphones out of concern that it might not be taken seriously.
Authorities also say only a small percentage of residents heeded mandatory and voluntary evacuation warnings.
Hundreds of searchers are still hunting for survivors of the flash flooding and mudslides near Santa Barbara, California.
They slogged through ooze and poked long holes into the mud on Wednesday as they searched for victims a day after the massive debris flow passed through.
The death to ll from Tuesday’s pre-dawn flash flood rose to 17 as more bodies were found. Another 17 were still reported missing.
Authorities are hoped to find them alive.
By Wednesday, some 500 searchers had covered about 75 percent of the inundated area in the search for victims.
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