Names of Montecito mudslide victims released staff KABC logo
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Names of 17 Montecito mudslide victims released
The names of 17 victims of the flooding and mudslides in Montecito were released Thursday by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

MONTECITO, Calif. (KABC) -- The names of the 21 victims killed in flooding and mudslides in Montecito have been released by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

The victims range in age from 3 years old to 89; all were residents of Montecito.

The cause of death for most of the individuals was listed as "Multiple traumatic injuries due to flash flood with mudslides due to recent wildfire."

The names were released following the notification of next of kin.

"The Sheriff's Office wants to express our heartfelt sadness to the family and friends of those who lost their loved ones," the agency said in a statement. "We request that you respect their privacy during this most difficult time."

Four people are still considered to be "actively missing, sheriff's officials said.

Here are the names of the deceased:

Faviola Benitez, 28

Jonathan Benitez, age 10

Kailly Benitez, 3

Joseph Francis Bleckel, 87

Martin Cabrera-Munoz, 48

David Cantin, 49

Morgan Christine Corey, 25

Sawyer Corey, 12

Peter Fleurat, 73

Josephine Gower, 69

John McManigal, 61

Alice Mitchell, 78

James Mitchell, 89

Mark Montgomery, 54

Caroline Montgomery, 22

Marilyn Ramos, 27

Rebecca Riskin, 61

Roy Rohter, 84

Peerawat Sutthithepa, 6

Pinit Sutthithepa, 30

Richard Taylor, 67

Here's what we know about the victims so far:


Gower's home was inundated by knee-deep mud and large boulders carried by the force of the mudslides. The home's garage was destroyed and the cars were swept away.

Her friend Doug Scott told ABC News that Gower and another friend were on the second floor of her home but ventured downstairs when they heard rumbling. They were swept away by the mud, but the friend was rescued by clinging to a tree near the house, Scott said.

"Why didn't she stay upstairs?" Hayden Gower asked, tearfully. "Why did she go downstairs?"

Josie Gower's friend Diane Brewer said she used to live next door to the now-destroyed property. The two had traveled to Italy for five weeks with Josie's children last year.

Josephine "Josie" Gower, 69, lost her life in the Montecito mudslides.
Gower family


Riskin was a real estate agent and founder of Riskin Partners.

"It is with heavy hearts we share that our dear friend and partner, Rebecca Riskin, has passed away as a result of the tragic flooding and mudslides in Montecito," the company wrote in a Facebook post. "The confirmation of her loss is incredibly devastating to her friends, family, and our community."

"Rebecca was an exceptional woman, and her legacy will continue to live on and thrive through her children, Robert and Julia, her husband Ken Grand, and her namesake firm, Riskin Partners."

Colleagues at Riskin Partners credited the former ballerina with having closed more than $2 billion in high-end real estate sales since founding the company that bears her name in the early 1990s.

"She's leaving a huge void. She was exceptional," said Gina Conte, who described Riskin as her best friend, mentor and confidante.

Conte said Riskin, who was the maid of honor at her wedding, took joy in pairing the perfect home with the perfect family and loved cooking, going for long walks and spending movie nights with her family.

Riskin was swept away after a mudslide tore through her living room, Conte said, adding that her husband survived because he was in bed in a part of the house that stayed intact. Her body was found Wednesday near a highway.

Company spokeswoman Erin Lammers said Riskin was a ballerina with the American Ballet Theater in New York before an injury cut short her dancing career. She returned to her hometown of Los Angeles in 1979, where she began selling high-end real estate on the city's west side. She moved to Montecito in the early 1990s.

Riskin is survived by her husband, two grown children and a grandson.

Rebecca Riskin, a former ballerina and founder of a real estate firm, died in the Montecito mudslides.
Gina Conte via AP


Rohter founded St. Augustine Academy in Ventura in 1994 and was described as a man dedicated to his Catholic faith and to helping others. The mudslide swept Rohter and his wife Theresa Rohter out of their home. Theresa was rescued and hospitalized in stable condition.

The school posted a statement about Rohter on Facebook.

The school's headmaster, Michael Van Hecke, a friend of Rohter for more than 25 years, said: "Roy's life has been in service to his good, loving and ever-forgiving God. He has done so much for so many people and pro-life and Catholic education causes. ... Thousands have been blessed by the Rohters' friendship and generosity."

Rohter grew up in Chicago and was a real estate broker for several years before founding St. Augustine Academy.

Roy Rohter, the founder of a Catholic school in Ventura, died in the mudslide that hit Montecito.

Even as the names were released, the search was continuing for other survivors and victims.

Search teams were methodically combing the rubble and debris left by the mudslides with the help of trained K-9s.

Search-and-rescue teams are still looking for victims and survivors in the rubble and debris left by massive mudslides in Montecito.


Pinit - known as "Peanut" to friends - immigrated to the United States from Thailand, according to a family friend.

He initially came by himself, sending money back to his wife and two children before they were able to immigrate as well by 2016.

They only had a short time together as a reunited family.

The Thomas Fire forced them to evacuate their home last month.

Then the powerful rainstorm that swept through Montecito and brought massive mudslides took the lives of Pinit and his 6-year-old son Peerawat.

His daughter Lydia, 2, remains on the list of the missing.

His father-in-law Richard Loring Taylor was also killed in the mudslides.

Pinit Sutthithepa was killed in the Montecito mudslides and his daughter Lydia remains on the list of the missing.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available about the people who lost their lives in Montecito.

The Associated Press and ABC News contributed to this report.