California families are in the midst of devastation as the brutal mudslides continue to take the life of nearby citizens, including several young children. The massive mudslides and debris came in response to a recent heavy rainstorm in Santa Barbara County.
Initially, the 101 Freeway was shut down, thousands of people were under evacuation orders, and several people were missing. Fortunately, thanks to local first responders, hundreds have been rescued. According to the LA Times, five people were still missing as of Friday afternoon.
The death and injury toll continues to rise as the search and rescue efforts continue. ABC News reported that at least 18 people have been confirmed dead and 28 injured. These numbers are, sadly, expected to increase in upcoming days.
Among the deaths include four children, one as young as three years old. A 2-year-old child is also still missing, according to NPR.
Some of the victims have been identified and released to the public. Please read some of their heartwrenching stories below (courtesy of ABC and LA Times).
Rohter, 84, was the founder of the St. Augustine Academy in Ventura. Those close to him described him as someone who lived his life “in service to his good, loving and ever-forgiving God” and loved to bless others. He is survived by his beloved wife, Theresa Rohter.
Alice Mitchell and James Mitchell
Alice, 78, and James, 89, were a happily married couple with two children. The two had been retired for several years and loved being in their home. They chose to ignore the evacuation, enjoying James' birthday dinner instead, but unfortunately, did not survive.
Peerawat Sutthithepa and Richard Taylor
Sutthithepa, 6, and his stepfather Richard Taylor, 79, were tragically killed in the mudslides. The young boy’s father and 2-year-old sister Lydia are still missing. Please pray for their safe return. The other family members, who are Thai immigrants, are safe and sound.
Jonathan Benitez and Kailly Benitez
Jonathan was a 10-year-old 4th-grade student. He loved sports and helping others. His 3-year-old cousin Kailly, the youngest identified victim thus far, also passed away.
Please keep all of the victims and their loved ones in your prayers. In other recent news, new details were released about the Las Vegas shooter’s girlfriend.