All 17 victims of the deadly mudslides in Montecito were identified by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday.
Officials said that the family members of the victims, who were 3 to 89 years old, have been notified of the deaths.
As many as 43 people remain missing in the area after torrential rains prompted destructive mudslides where the Thomas Fire burned, Sheriff Bill Brown said Thursday afternoon.
The victims were identified as:
- 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
All of the victims are from Montecito, Sheriff Bill Brown said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.
“This was a very sad and tragic announcement for us to make,” Brown said before reading the names.
The vicious mudflows that raced through the affluent Southern California beach city of Montecito early Tuesday were ruthless. Families were ripped apart, swept away, with some victims surviving while some did not.
At least 17 people were killed and others were missing as authorities searched through the destruction for signs of them.
Four of the deceased were children and two of the victims were in their 80s.
Here’s what we know so far about the victims:
Rohter founded St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, California, in 1994, current headmaster and friend Michael Van Hecke said.
In a statement, Van Hecke said Rohter and his wife were swept away from their home in Montecito. She was rescued and is in stable condition.
Her husband did much for Catholic causes, Van Hecke said.
“Roy’s life has been in service to his good, loving and ever-forgiving God,” Van Hecke said. “Thousands have been blessed by the Rohters’ friendship and generosity.”
Van Hecke said Rohter, 84, talked about wanting prayers when he died.
“He said so many times that after his passing, ‘Make sure everyone prays for my soul.’ We will, Roy!”
Rohter and his family spent eight days at Hecke’s house in December when the Rohters were evacuated because of fires, Van Hecke said.
Diane Brewer knew Josie Gower, 69, for 54 years.
“She was very gregarious, very unique. In so many ways she was so beautiful,” Brewer said.
Brewer said Gower lived passionately, whether she was interacting with children, grandchildren, friends — or strangers.
“Everyone loves her. She truly was one of a kind,” Brewer said.
She described her friend as warm and loving and as never speaking negatively about anyone.
Gower loved to travel, she said.
“And she would always stop to give cookies or other treats to people at the YMCA,” she said.
Riskin was a Los Angeles native and a long-time real estate agent. The founder of Riskin Partners, she moved to Montecito in 1990, according to a biography on her company’s website.
The luxury real estate agency called her loss “incredibly devastating” and said she was an exceptional woman.
“We intend to carry out her life’s work with the same strength, grace and elegance that wholly defined Rebecca,” the statement said.
She is survived by a husband and two adult children.
Riskin was 61, according to CNN affiliate KEYT.
The former professional ballerina was known as the first lady of luxury real estate, KEYT reported.