MODESTO, Calif. (AP) — Two people missing since last week’s flash flooding in central California were presumed dead after a large-scale search effort uncovered their damaged vehicles but failed to locate them, officials said Monday.
The 67-year-old man and 72-year-old woman have been missing since heavy rain and flooding in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Modesto on Thursday, the Mariposa County sheriff’s office said in a statement. The two were believed to have been swept away in separate incidents tied to the storms.
“Unfortunately, due to the force of this storm, we do presume both deceased,” the sheriff’s office said.
The flash floods turned creeks into surging rivers of fast-moving water riddled with broken debris.
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“It is unlikely they could have survived their situation,” the statement said.
Authorities identified the woman as Carol Brown, 72, of the community of Catheys Valley near Merced, who went to check on horses in the heavy rain and flooding. When she did not return home in 30 minutes, her husband went to look for her and found her car on its side in a surging creek, the statement said.
Separately, the wife of John Honesto, 67, reported him missing to the Tuolumne County sheriff’s office late Thursday when he did not return home from a substitute teaching job.
Mariposa County deputies found Honesto’s destroyed vehicle Friday, a mile downstream from where a highway had been washed out by floodwaters.
More than 70 personnel searched for the two throughout the weekend using a helicopter, drones, divers and rescue dogs, but the search will now be scaled back, the statement said. Both will still be listed as missing.
Crews kept repairing numerous roads damaged by the flash flooding throughout Mariposa County, near Fresno in the Sierra foothills.