Death toll rises to 19 in Montecito mudslides

MONTECITO — The death toll from the mudslides in a California coastal town rose to 19 on Saturday but a man who had also been on the list of missing persons was located alive, authorities said. The body of Morgan Christine Corey, 25, was found in mud and debris in Montecito, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. 

Corey’s 12-year-old sister, Sawyer, had been found dead earlier.

“We ask that you keep this devastated family in your thoughts and prayers,” Brown said.

Another person who had been on the list of missing, 62-year-old Delbert Weltzin, was found alive and well, Brown said without elaborating on the circumstances.

A rescue worker searches among properties looking for missing persons after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. January 12, 2018.

KYLE GRILLOT / REUTERS

The two developments reduced the number of missing from seven to five.

“While every hour it remains less likely that we will find anyone alive, there is always hope,” the sheriff said.

A doctor and his daughter who died in the arms of her brother were among the 19 people killed in devastating mudslides.

Other victims included a young mother asleep with her 3-year-old daughter as her 10-year-old nephew slumbered nearby, and a woman and her 89-year-old husband of more than 50 years who celebrated his birthday the day before.

Lalo Barajas’ partner of 17 years, Peter Fleurat, died in the mudlsides. All Barajas has left to remember Fleurat are the mementos he found a half mile from their house. He says they lived in a voluntary evacuation zone, so they decided to ride out Tuesday’s storm. Then the mudslide hit.

“This is all I have, everything is gone,” Lalo Barajas told CBS News’ Carter Evans. “The floor, felt like it had no support at all, it was rolling underneath me,” Barajas said. “The walls just burst open, the mud came in and just shot us both out of the house.”

They were soon pulled in different…

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