21st Victim Found and Identified in Montecito Mudslide

Update by Edhat Staff
8:00 a.m. January 21, 2018

Just before 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 20, 2018, a search and recovery Human Remains Detection dog team located the body of an adult female in the 100 block of Santo Tomas Lane near Olive Mill Road and above Coast Village Road.

The Sheriff’s Coroner’s Office has identified the decedent as being 28-year-old Faviola Benitez Calderon of Montecito. Her family has been notified.

The Sheriff’s Office expressed deep condolences to the Benitez family, who were already mourning the loss of Faviola’s 10-year-old son, Jonathan Benitez and his cousin 3-year-old Kaelly Benitez, as well as Kaelly’s mother, 27-year-old Marilyn Ramos.

Search and recovery teams, with the assistance of 16 Human Remains Detection dog teams, from throughout the state are working together this weekend in an effort to locate the missing victims and bring closure to their families. There are currently two people who are still missing, 2-year-old Lydia Sutthithepa and 17-year-old Jack Cantin.

There are now 21 confirmed fatalities related to the January 9, 2018 storm and subsequent debris flow. The victims include:


Jonathan Benitez (10 years old), Kaelly Benitez (3 years old), Marilyn Ramos (27 years old), Faviola Benitez Calderon (28-years-old)

Marilyn was asleep in bed with her daughter, Kaelly, when the mudslide crashed through their Montecito rental home, carrying both to their deaths. Kaelly’s cousin, Jonathan, who was asleep nearby was also killed. 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 as of Friday.

Jonathan was a fourth-grade student at Cleveland Elementary School in Santa Barbara. A GoFundMe account has been created for the family.

Martin Cabrera-Munoz – 48 years old

A GoFundMe.com account has been started by Martin’s family to raise money for his funeral services, with any extra being donated to the American Red Cross. A rosary will be held at Our Lady of Guadalupe church, Tuesday (January 16) at 7 pm and mass will be Wednesday (January 17) at 10 am.

David Cantin – 49 years old

David was scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 33 and vice president of sales for NDS Surgical Imaging, a company that develops and sells operating room technology. His daughter Lauren, 14, was pulled from the wreckage of the family home early Wednesday, and his wife Kim was also rescued. The family’s 17-year-old son Jack is still missing, as of Friday.

A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family.


Sawyer Corey (12 years old) and Morgan Corey (25 years old)

Sawyer and her sister Morgan Corey, 25, were asleep in their Montecito home when the mud rolled through the area, sweeping away the home and the family members inside. Sawyer’s twin sister, Summer, and their mother Carie Baker have been found and are recovering at the hospital. Morgan was the latest victim to be identified on Saturday.

A fundraising account has been set up for the girls at fundly.com. Also, a GoFundMe account has been set up for Carie Baker’s medical costs.

Peter Fleurat – 73 years old (right)

Peter has been described as hilarious, silly, giving, and loved the outdoors. He was at home with his partner of 17 years, Ralph “Lalo” Barajas (left), when a wall of mud burst through their walls. “The last thing Peter yelled out to me was, ‘Lalo, grab onto some wood and don’t let go,’” Barajas told CBS News. “That was the last I heard of him.” Barajas, the owner of the Rose Cafe on the Mesa, was rescued and released from the hospital when he received the news that Peter had died.

A GoFundMe has been set up for the family.

Josephine (Josie) Gower – 69 years old

Described as fun-loving, independent, and the life of the party, Josie had lived in Montecito for over 20 years. As the wall of mud and debris reached her home, Josie was last seen clinging to the door frame before the mudflow swept her away.

She is survived by two children and three grandchildren.

John McManigal – 61 years old

Described as an “amazing man, father of six, and loving husband”, John is the owner of local company MEDCAP Asset Finance. John’s son Connor is recovering from serious injuries in the hospital. A donation to the family can be made at gofundme.com. A memorial service has been scheduled at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara on Saturday, January 20 at 2:00 p.m. 


Alice (78 years old) and James “Jim” Mitchell (89 years old)

Alice and Jim moved to Montecito after retiring in 1995. Their Hot Springs Road home was named “Casa de Contenta,” the house of contentment. The night before the storm, the couple chose to stay home and celebrate Jim’s 89th birthday with a quiet dinner. 


Mark (54 years old) and Caroline Montgomery (22 years old)

Dr. Mark Montgomery was a hand surgeon at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and Associated Hand Surgeons. He was married with three children. His daughter, Caroline, was a graduate of Cate School and was attending Barnard College pursuing a degree in fashion. Mark and Caroline were in their family home when the mud flow hit. Mark’s son, who was upstairs at the time, sustained only minor injuries. His wife and eldest daughter were traveling.

Rebecca Riskin – 61 years old

Rebecca was a former ballerina in the American Ballet Theatre before moving to Los Angeles to start her real estate firm, Riskin Partners. It’s reported she brokered more than $2 billion in real estate for high-profile clients. She was swept away after the mudslide crashed through her living room, while her husband was in bed in a part of the house that stayed intact. Riskin is survived by her husband, Ken Grand, children Robert and Julia, and a grandson.

Roy Rohter – 84 years old

Roy, a retired real estate broker, founded St. Augustine Academy, a Catholic school in Ventura, in 1994. Him and his wife, Theresa, were found inside their Montecito home after the mudslide hit. Theresa was injured but survived.


Peerawat Sutthithepa (6 years old), Richard Loring Taylor (79 years old), Pinit Sutthithepa (30 years old)

Peerawat, affectionately known as Pasta, was at home with his step-grandfather Loring, his father Pinit, and 2-year-old sister Lydia when the mudslide hit their E. Valley Road home. Lydia is still missing as of Sunday, but his mother and grandmother were working when the mudslide hit and are safe. 

A GoFundMe account has been created for the family by Pasta’s father who worked at Toyota of Santa Barbara.

Joseph Francis Bleckel – 87 years old

Joseph was found inside his home on Winding Creek Lane in Romero Canyon.


As of Saturday, January 20, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office reported 2 people are still missing. More details and photos of the missing people can be found here.

  • John “Jack” Cantin – 17 years old
  • Lydia Sutthithepa – 2 years old


If there is any information on these missing people, please contact the Family Assistance Center at 21 E. Constance in Santa Barbara, or by calling 805-681-5542 and ask for the appropriate person.

You can mark yourself as “Safe” and search for others who have checked in as safe at the Red Cross’ Online System.


  • Ken Liatas
  • Dwight and Kimberly Lowell
  • Scott McMillin
  • Judy Stewart
  • Arthur and Tracie Ownes

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

What do you think?


0 Comments deleted by Administrator

Leave a Review or Comment


  1. I heard a rescue yesterday involving 5 people they got one and were removing bodies from the location today, I went for a walk in my travels I heard someone say “Will they should have got out of there it’s their own fault!, I’m sorry they lost their lives but they should have got out of there.” Sometimes I hate people.

  2. If I lived close to Coast Village Rd. I’d probably think it was silly to evacuate. Just sayin’. Easy to judge people, but when you’ve been out of your house for two weeks in a fire, feeling fearful and uncertain, and just got home, finally settling back into what feels “normal”, I can see how the idea of a mudslide coming over 2 miles from the canyons above could seem really unlikely, especially if you’ve never seen a flash flood in action before. And some of the areas hardest hit were in voluntary zones, not mandatory.
    Blaming victims is something people do to try to convince themselves that whatever it is–disease, accident, natural disaster–couldn’t happen to them. Sorry blamers, but that just ain’t the case. What’s needed now is support, compassion, grieving, not pointing fingers.

  3. We were disconnected from Cox for 4 days but during that time I thought of the warnings posted here about torrential rain, floods and mud slides. One comment stuck in my mind, “I’ll believe it when I see it. Meteorologists get things wrong.” What I’ve wondered about is what the person making the unbelievable comment thinks now.

Missing Reduced to 2 in Montecito Mudslides

City to Replace Water Pipes This Year