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Posted: 1/13/2005 3:55:13 AM EDT
www.freep.com/news/nw/california13e_20050113.htm

Woman, 3 daughters killed in mud slide

January 13, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS


LA CONCHITA, Calif. -- After working alongside rescuers, a man who saw a massive mud slide crash into his town and sweep away his home learned the awful truth Wednesday: His wife and three of his daughters were killed in the cascade of earth and debris.

Their deaths brought the toll from Monday's mud slide in La Conchita to 10, officials said.

Rescuers searching with shovels, their bare hands and tiny video cameras dropped into holes found the four bodies before dawn Wednesday, Ventura County Fire Capt. Danny Rodriguez said. The crews worked around the clock for a second straight night, swarming over the debris pile under a clear sky and powerful lights.

The four dead were the wife and three daughters of La Conchita resident Jimmie Wallet, Ventura County sheriff's chaplain Ron Matthews said.

Three people remain missing after Monday's 30-foot-deep mud slide, which was triggered by five days of nearly nonstop rain. With the 10 known dead in La Conchita, the storm's toll in California since Friday rose to 25.

Wallet was out getting ice cream when the slide hit. He frantically searched alongside firefighters for his wife and three daughters, at times clawing at the mud with his bare hands.

Wallet dug for hours in the rain around where he thought the family might be. He helped rescue two people before he stopped and waited, smoking cigarettes as friends stopped by to embrace him. Early Wednesday, after 36 hours, his wait ended.

His wife, Mechelle, was the first to be found. Around 2 a.m., firefighters and several of Wallet's friends carried her to the makeshift morgue at the town's gas station. Wallet went in and identified her. Then, the 37-year-old carpenter went to the porch of a stucco house and sat without a word.

Two hours later, his youngest daughter, 2-year-old Paloma, was taken out on a stretcher. Her sister Raven, 6, was next, soon followed by 10-year-old Hannah.

The three girls were found next to each other, apparently sitting on a couch when the slide broke apart their house, pushing it for about 100 yards and covering it in muck.

"They never had a chance to get out," said Scott Hall, a battalion chief with Ventura County Fire Department.

After the bodies were found, friends took Wallet out of town with his 16-year-old daughter, who was in Ventura during the mud slide.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger viewed the area by helicopter Wednesday.

Link Posted: 1/13/2005 3:58:23 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/13/2005 4:13:23 AM EDT by Noname]
Damn...


Another link to story.
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 4:00:01 AM EDT
The hillside moved like water -------- it was unbelievable  to watch.
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 4:04:53 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Noname:
Damn...


That would be an understatement.
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 4:15:04 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 8:26:40 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/13/2005 8:27:08 AM EDT by warlord]
We should all hug our family a little tighter tonight. The poor man lost his whole family.

All of those other whiney SOBs pale by comparision and should count their lucky stars that no one in their family was killed.
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cbs2.com/topstories/topstoriesla_story_012184429.html

Calif. Man's Frantic Search Ends In Grief

Helped Resue Two People While Searching For Family

Jan 12, 2005 3:43 pm US/Pacific
LA CONCHITA, Calif. (AP) Jimmie Wallet went out for ice cream, and when he got back, everyone and everything he had left behind were gone. On Wednesday, he identified the bodies of his wife and three of his daughters, pulled from a tangle of homes smashed by a mudslide.

No one lost more than Wallet in Monday's mudslide, which has killed at least 10 people in this oceanside community. And, driven by the frantic hope of finding his family, no one was as quick to claw through the debris and help pull out survivors.

Wallet dug for hours in the rain around where he thought the family might be. He helped rescue two people before he stopped and waited, smoking cigarettes as friends stopped by to embrace him. Early Wednesday, after 36 hours, his wait ended.

His wife, Mechelle, was the first to be found. Around 2 a.m., firefighters and several of Wallet's friends carried her to the makeshift morgue at the town's gas station. Wallet went in and identified her, then returned to the porch of a peach stucco house where he had been staying, put up his feet and sat without a word.

Two hours later, his youngest daughter, 2-year-old Paloma, was taken out on a stretcher. Her sister Raven, 6, was next, soon followed by 10-year-old Hannah.

The three girls were found next to each other. Rescue workers standing atop the ruins silently leaned on their shovels.

"They never had a chance to get out," said Scott Hall, a battalion chief with Ventura County Fire Department. "It appeared they were sitting on a couch unaware of the slide."

His fourth daughter, a 16-year-old, had been in nearby Ventura when the slide happened.

Six people were still listed as missing in the mudslide.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (news - web sites) viewed the damage by helicopter Wednesday. "It's extraordinary the way people have come together here from the moment the mudslides hit," he said.

The rainstorm that triggered the slide continued to bedevil the West, causing floods that destroyed houses in Arizona in Utah, washed out roads and forcing dozens of people from their homes. No serious injuries were reported, but one man was missing in Utah.

As workers searched for the missing in LaConchita, Wallet said in interviews with The Associated Press that he moved to this free-spirited beach town 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles from Ventura. The family lived in a household of 10, including Charles Womack, a 51-year-old musician also killed in the mudslide.

Wallet, a 37-year-old construction worker who has thick dreadlocks and is nicknamed "Gator," said they played music and hung out on an old bus with a rooftop patio. Engraved over his home's front gate were the words "Music is love."

Residents of La Conchita said Wallet sang with his kids, took them to the beach and walked around town with Hannah on his shoulders. His wife stayed home with the children and was "powerful, such a rock," said Vera Long, who lived three houses down.

"They were incredibly beautiful children. They had these sparkling, intelligent, deeply soulful eyes. Just incredibly loving," Long said. "The only comfort I can derive is that they were all together."

Jimmie Wallet had been returning home Monday when days of soaking rain triggered the mudslide. He watched the torrent curve toward his block and ran home, only to find it smothered. Officials said the house was broken apart, pushed for about 100 yards and covered with about six feet of mud.

Instinct took over and he began to dig. Fire officials credited him with helping map out likely locations of destroyed homes.

"The most frustrating part was that he couldn't do more," said fire Capt. Conrad Quintana.

When Wallet returned late Monday night with six friends, rescue workers let them dig five hours in the rain around where they thought the family might be.

After leaving to rest Tuesday morning, Wallet returned to dig, but was stopped by authorities and handcuffed after he crossed police lines. Rescue workers had changed shifts and did not recognize him. He was released after authorities realized who he was.

(© 2005 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 8:27:57 AM EDT
they actually expect to find survivors after being buried under tons of dirt and rock?
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