PICTURED – The 18 killed in Montecito mudslides: Victims buried alive in their beds and swept to their deaths include golden wedding couple, a former ballerina turned realtor and a much-loved scoutmaster

Saturday, January 13, 2018
By Paul Martin

Tuesday’s mudslides have killed 18, wrecking homes and dumping mud over the lawns and gardens
The oldest victim was 89 while the youngest was just three – four victims were children
Seven people are still missing as searches continue, while an 18th victim was found dead in his house
Mudslides destroyed 100 houses damaging 300 others after debris spread across a wide swath of Montecito
1,250 rescuers have searched frantically for the missing after rivers of mud and boulders came through
Montecito, an affluent seaside community east of Santa Barbara, was affected as homes were demolished
Geologists and forecasters warned that intense rain could trigger deadly mudslides from the scorched areas

13 January 2018

A young mother asleep with her three-year-old daughter as her 10-year-old nephew slumbered nearby were among the 18 people killed in a devastating mudslide that brought tragedy and sorrow to the small, wealthy California enclave of Montecito.

Other victims included a 22-year-old woman who died in the arms of her brother as he frantically tried to save her after their father was swept to his death by the fast-moving river of mud.

Californian authorities have called for public help in locating seven people still missing although they acknowledge that finding anyone alive would be a ‘miracle’.

‘The missing persons were reported by family and friends, and resided in areas that were heavily damaged during the storm and subsequent mudslides,’ the sheriff’s office said.

The disaster struck on Tuesday after heavy rains soaked the area. Sodden hillsides gave way, unleashing a torrent of mud, water, uprooted trees and boulders onto the valley below and causing what the police described as ‘traumatic injuries’ to the victims, who ranged in age from 3 to 89.

The sheriff’s office listed the names of the missing, who range in age from two to 62, in a statement on Friday night

Here are their stories and those of others in a community where victims ranged from captains of industry to the people who manicure their lawns.

Marilyn Ramos was asleep in bed with her three-year-old daughter, Kaelly Benitez, when the deadly mudslide came crashing through their Montecito rental home, carrying both to their deaths.

Also killed was Kaelly’s 10-year-old cousin, Jonathan Benitez, who was asleep nearby.

Marilyn’s husband, Antonio Benitez, was injured, as was his brother, Victor, who is Jonathan’s father. Victor’s 2-year-old son survived, but his wife, Fabiola, was still missing on Saturday.

The brothers, immigrants from Mexico, owned a gardening and landscaping business in Montecito. Marilyn was a stay-at-home mom.

‘My sister was such a good person, she only thought of others to the point that she would cry with you when you were hurt or sick,’ Jennifer Ramos said between sobs as she spoke by phone from her home in Mexico.

Her 27-year-old sister called relatives every day in the town of Marquelia, near Acapulco on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Jennifer Ramos said. When a call didn’t come Tuesday she sensed something was wrong.

During her last call home the day before, Marilyn put her daughter on the phone and she happily told her aunt about the toys she received on January 6, The Day of the Magi, a holiday widely celebrated in Latin America.

During a visit home in September, Marilyn Ramos told her family she missed Mexico and hoped to return someday. On Friday, her family spoke with Mexican officials about bringing her body back.

The Rest…HERE

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