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Debris pile where Carol Brown was located - photo Mariposa Co Sheriff

Body Of Woman Swept Away In Mariposa Floods Located

MARIPOSA – The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office has announced that human remains found near the Bear Reservoir have been identified as Carol Brown, 72, of Catheys Valley, who was swept away during the massive flooding in March.

Mariposa Sheriff‘s Search and Rescue along with several additional agencies have continued to search for Carol Brown since she was reported missing on Mar. 22.

On Saturday, June 16, Mariposa County Sheriff’s personnel, Search and Rescue and cadaver dogs from the California Rescue Dog Association (CARDA) conducted a search near the Bear Reservoir. This area is approximately nine miles downstream from where Carol was last seen.

While searching a very large debris pile one of the cadaver dogs alerted to an area where searchers located skeletal human remains. The remains were collected and sent to a Forensic Odonatologist. Carol was positively identified using dental records.

“The family of Carol Brown has been notified of our findings,” says the Sheriff’s Office. “While this is a tragic event, we are thankful we were able to locate her and help her family find closure.”

John Honesta, 67, of Don Pedro, continues to be listed as missing. Organized searches continue in and around the area where John’s vehicle was located.

John was reported missing to the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office on Mar. 22 at 10 p.m. by his wife, when he did not return home from his substitute teaching job at the Coulterville/ Greeley Hill School, where he is beloved by the students.

John was last seen on Thursday as he left the Coulterville area to return to his home in the Lake Don Pedro area. John’s normal route home would take him down Highway 132 where the large highway washout occurred during the storm. It appears through investigation that John crossed the flooded/washed out section of Highway 132 at the Piney Creek culvert.

On Friday, Mar. 23, at 10:45 a.m. Mariposa Sheriff’s deputies searching for John located his destroyed vehicle, over one mile downstream of Highway 132 from the washout. However, John was not located inside.

The original information released by the Sheriff’s Office on Mar. 26:

The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office has been searching for two missing from the Mar. 22 storm / flooding Event.

Missing Person Details:

Carol Brown, 72, of Cathey’s Valley

On Mar. 22 at approximately 5 p.m., Carol left her house to check on horses due to the heavy rain and flooding. When Carol did not return back to the house after 30 minutes her husband started to look for her and found their side by side utility vehicle she was driving laying on its side in the creek/ river.

The area Carol was last seen is typically a seasonal creek that is normally 3-4 feet wide and 0-1 feet deep, searchers on scene have estimated the peak flow of the flooding water reached 150 ft. wide and 10 ft. deep at peak flood stage.

This fast moving water was riddled with twisted and broken debris and would have been impossible for a person to navigate. This waterway continues to the Bear Creek Reservoir which is located about 10 miles downstream towards Merced County.

The debris field in the search area is extensive in size. Searchers guided by CHP H40 helicopter did locate what we believe is to her jacket she was wearing at time. We have not been able to locate anything else at this time.

Search Efforts:

Our search teams, supported by all our surrounding cities and state agencies, have search for Carol and John non-stop day and night.

Over 70 personnel have been continuously searching for both Carol and John. This consists of Ground Searchers, Swift Water Teams, Boating Rescue, Drones, Helicopters and Search Dogs. Search management Teams have been organizing and directing the efforts in coordination with the Mariposa County Emergency Operations Center.

The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office has been assisted in the search operations by 12 allied agencies, which include: Tuolumne County Sheriff, Madera County Sheriff, Kern County Sheriff, Fresno County Sheriff, Merced County Sheriff, Stanislaus County Sheriff, Calaveras County Sheriff, California Highway Patrol H40 Helicopter, CARDA Rescue and Cadaver Dogs, California Office of Emergency Services, CALFIRE and Monterey County Sheriff.

The large scale search operations for both Carol and John has continued day and night since. Unfortunately due to the force of this storm we do presume both deceased. As of this evening, we are planning to reduce the mutual aid teams. The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office will continue to liaison with the families and monitor the search area.

We are sensitive to the family and do hope we can effect recoveries soon, however, again due to the destruction evident in the search area, and throughout the entire county, it is unlikely they could have survived their situation.

Both Carol and John will continue to be listed as missing. Both have been entered into Department of Justice Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

One comment

  1. I don’t understand why some people even attempt to cross a creek that is in flood stage. It’s a true tragedy that could have been avoided.

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