Mudslide victim identified as founder of Ventura Catholic school

MONTECITO, Calif. (KABC) -- One of the victims of the Santa Barbara County mudslides that took at least 13 lives has been identified as Roy Rohter, the founder of a Catholic academy in Ventura.

Rohter founded St. Augustine Academy in Ventura in 1994.

The school issued a statement saying Rohter and his wife Theresa were swept from their Montecito home early Tuesday morning. Theresa was rescued and hospitalized.

The school's headmaster, Michael Van Hecke, a friend of Rohter for more than 25 years, described him as a man dedicated to his faith and to helping others.

"Roy's life has been in service to his good, loving and ever-forgiving God," Hecke said. "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 also had ties to Thomas Aquinas College, where their daughter attended.

"Roy Rohter was a man of strong faith and a great friend of Catholic education," college president Michael F. McLean said. "A founder and benefactor of classical Catholic schools, he played a pivotal role in the lives of countless young Catholic students - students who came to a deeper knowledge and love of Christ because of his vision, commitment, and generosity"

A powerful rainstorm triggered mudslides and flooding in areas throughout Southern California where hillsides had been stripped bare by recent wildfires.

The flooding hit Montecito hard early Tuesday morning, leading to devastating mudslides that killed at least 13 people. At least two dozen more were considered missing as search-and-rescue efforts continued. At least 25 people were injured.

The names of other victims have not been publicly released.
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