Man rescues baby from Montecito mudslide debris

Posted at 12:15 PM, Jan 09, 2018

A man says he dug a baby out from four feet of mud after massive mudslides hit Montecito early Tuesday morning.

Berkeley Johnson said he and his wife, Karen, climbed up to their roof at around 3 a.m. after boulders and mud came crashing through their home, sending mud 8 feet up their staircase.

"I heard the rumbling of the rocks and I looked up and the river and the trees were coming down like chum, chum, chum," Johnson described. "We ran into the house and right then the boulders busted through our house."

After the flooding receded, the couple said they climbed down and heard a baby crying near their neighbor’s house.  The man said he had to dig four feet down to rescue the baby. The baby was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

"We don’t know where it came from but we got it out, got the mud out of its mouth. I hope it’s okay. I’m glad we got it out but who knows what else is out there," he said.

KSBY has reached out to hospital officials for information on the baby’s condition and will provide an update when that information becomes available.

By Tuesday morning, fire officials said at least eight people were killed in mudslides and flooding in Santa Barbara County.

Other Montecito residents shared their harrowing stories from the disaster. Marco Ferrel said he ran home after he heard rumbling and found four feet of mud counter-high throughout his house.

"It was absolutely terrifying for over an hour, there was just mud raging through my house," Ferrel said.

Stephanee Jimenez said she was on her way to work with her family around 4 a.m., when she saw the freeway become flooded with water and mud.

"It looked like a river, you were just crossing through a river," she said.

Jimenez said firefighters told people on the freeway they were expecting more water and to leave their cars and evacuate on foot. 

Approximately 30,000 people have been evacuated near the recent Thomas Fire burn area.

Tuesday morning, emergency officials said another flash flood or debris flow could occur in the Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria areas as more severe weather and heavy rain is predicted. Residents are urged to leave the area now and move to higher ground.

To read more about evacuations and most recent damage, click here