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Woman killed during storm in Avila Beach 'could fill a room with laughter'

Avila Beach Drive closed
Posted at 4:15 PM, Jan 11, 2023

The woman killed when her vehicle was overtaken by floodwater in Avila Beach earlier this week has been identified by authorities as Karen Buccat of Avila Beach.

It happened around 12:30 p.m. Monday on Avila Beach Drive east of San Luis Bay Drive.

The California Highway Patrol says road closures were previously placed in the area and while rescuers attempted to help Buccat, they say her SUV was not accessible with standard emergency vehicles.

A swift water rescue boat had to be used to access the vehicle, which was pulled out of the water early Tuesday morning.

The incident remains under investigation.

A gofundme reportedly created by Buccat’s daughter, Tori, says the 60-year-old “was a mother, grandmother, sister, and your best friend. She could fill a room with laughter even if it’s mostly hers. She loved telling and hearing everyone’s stories, and she listened like you were the only person that existed to her in that moment. She always made us feel like we had a place in this crazy world. She was our rock, our humor, our empathy, our everything.”

Tori says she’s planning to head to California from Utah to assist with her mother’s service.

Buccat's death was the first storm-related death reported in San Luis Obispo County this week. Morro Bay police say the death of a man whose body was found in a boat Tuesday is also likely due to the storm. The search continues in Paso Robles near San Miguel for Kyle Doan, 5, who was swept away by floodwaters Monday morning.