California mudslide victims include children as young as 3

Several children were killed in the mudslides.

ByABC News
January 12, 2018, 7:33 PM

— -- The 18 people killed in mudslides in Southern California this week included children ages 3, 6, 10 and 12.

According to the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Office and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, these are the names of those killed this week when heavy rain unleashed flash floods, mudslides and debris flow in the southern part of the state.

-- Jonathan Benitez: 10 years old
-- Kailly Benitez: 3 years old
-- Martin Cabrera-Munoz: 48 years old
-- David Cantin: 49 years old
-- Sawyer Corey: 12 years old
-- Peter Fleurat: 73 years old
-- Josephine Gower: 69 years old
-- John McManigal: 61 years old
-- Alice Mitchell: 78 years old
-- James Mitchell: 89 years old
-- Mark Montgomery: 54 years old
-- Caroline Montgomery: 22 years old
-- Marilyn Ramos: 27 years old
-- Rebecca Riskin: 61 years old
-- Roy Rohter: 84 years old
-- Peerawat Sutthithepn: 6 years old
-- Richard Taylor: 67 years old
-- Joseph Francis Bleckel: 87 years old

Police drive amid the devastation of a mudslide on East Valley Road in Montecito, Calif., on Jan. 11, 2018.
Juan Carlo/Ventura County Star via USA TODAY NETWORK

A mudslide swept Roy Rohter, the founder of St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, California, and his wife out of their home in Montecito on Tuesday, according to the Catholic school's headmaster, Michael Van Hecke. Rohter's wife was rescued, but he did not survive, Van Hecke told ABC News.

“Roy’s life has been in service to his good, loving and ever-forgiving God,” Van Hecke, a close friend of the Rohters, said in a statement. “Thousands have been blessed by the Rohters’ friendship and generosity.”

Rohter grew up in Chicago and was a real estate broker for several years before founding St. Augustine Academy, according to The Associated Press. Rohter believed strongly in Catholic education and dedicated his life to helping others, Van Hecke said.

"There is one thing Roy would want from everyone -- prayers," Van Hecke added. "He said so many times that after his passing, 'Make sure everyone prays for my soul.' We will, Roy!"

Roy Rohter, 84, was among those killed in a mudslide in Montecito, California, Jan. 9, 2018.
St. Augustine Academy

On Wednesday, loved ones searched for Montecito resident Josie Gower near her home, which was surrounded by knee-deep mud and large boulders that had been carried by the force of the mudslides.

Longtime friend Doug Scott told ABC News that Gower and another friend were on the second floor of her home but ventured downstairs when they heard rumbling. They were swept away by the mud, but the friend was rescued by clinging to a tree near the house, Scott said.

The home's garage was completely destroyed and the cars had been swept away as well, said Gower's son, Hayden Gower.

"Why didn't she stay upstairs?" Hayden Gower asked, tearfully. "Why did she go downstairs?"

Rebecca Riskin, 61, was among those killed in a mudslide in Montecito, Calif., Jan. 9, 2018.
Riskin Partners

Rebecca Riskin, a real estate agent and founder of Riskin Partners, was also killed in the mudslides in Montecito, the company confirmed in a press release Wednesday.

Prior to selling luxury real estate and building her namesake firm in Montecito, Riskin had a successful career as a professional ballerina.

Riskin Partners described its founder as a renowned businesswoman whose "knowledge, strength and work ethic were eclipsed only by her unending grace, warmth and kindness."

"The pinnacle of Rebecca's life's work and her lasting legacy lies in Riskin Partners and our enduring commitment to selling Montecito real estate," said Dina Landi, managing partner at Riskin Partners. "We plan to continue Rebecca’s legacy and love for real estate with the same level of excellence, experience and service that Rebecca so effortlessly embodied."

Riskin is survived by her two children, Robert and Julia, and her husband, Ken Grand, the company said.

Bill Asher walks through mud in his home damaged by storms in Montecito, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

James (Jim) and Alice Mitchell, along with their dog Gigi, were swept away by a mudslide in Montecito. The couple, who had been married for more than 50 years, had planned to stay in the night of the storm, a day after celebrating his 89th birthday, according to The Associated Press.

Their daughter Kelly Weimer last spoke to them on Monday when she called to wish her father a happy birthday.

"They're an adorable couple, and they were in love with their house," Weimer told the AP on Wednesday, before learning her parents had died.

The Mitchells are survived by their two children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, according to the AP.

Mud surrounds a home in Montecito, Calif., Jan. 10 2018 after heavy rains cause mudslides the area.

Richard Taylor, a retired English professor, and his 6-year-old stepgrandson, Peerawat Sutthithepa, were also among the dead in Montecito, according to his brother Marshall Taylor.

Marshall Taylor told ABC News his brother went by his middle name, Loring, and was 79, not 67 as Santa Barbara County officials reported earlier. Peerawat's last name was also misspelled by officials, Marshall Taylor said.

"Everyone that knew him thought he was a character," he said of his brother. "He just marched to a different drummer."

    ABC News' Fergal Gallagher, Matt Gutman, Sasha Pezenik and Alyssa Pone contributed to this report.

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