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California: Woman, 3-year-old daughter were sleeping when deadly mudslide swept

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.

world Updated: Jan 13, 2018 12:24 IST
AP, Montecito
California mudslide,California,Mudlslide
Rescue workers search a car after a mudslide in Montecito.(Reuters Photo)

A young mother asleep with her 3-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.

Marilyn Ramos was asleep in bed with her 3-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 Friday.

Rescue workers on the 101 Highway clear mud and debris from the roadway after a mudslide in Montecito. (Reuters Photo)

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.

A search and rescue dog is guided through properties after a mudslide in Montecito. (Reuters Photo)

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 Jan. 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.

First Published: Jan 13, 2018 11:50 IST