MARIPOSA – 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 Catheys 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 that she had been driving laying on its side in the creek.
The area Carol was last seen is typically a seasonal creek that is normally 3 to 4 feet wide and 0 to 1 foot deep. Searchers on scene have estimated the water reached 150 feet wide and 10 feet 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 to be the jacket Carol was wearing at time. The Sheriff’s Office has not been able to locate anything else at this time.
John Honesto, 67, of Don Pedro
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.
Mariposa county Sheriff’s Office search teams, supported by all their surrounding city and state agencies, have searched for Carol and John nonstop, day and night.
Over 70 personnel have been continuously searching, including 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, Cal Fire and Monterey County Sheriff.
The large scale search operations for both Carol and John has continued day and night. Unfortunately, due to the force of this storm, the Sheriff’s Office presumes both are deceased.
As of this evening, they 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,” says the Sheriff’s Office. “Both Carol and John will continue to be listed as missing. Both have been entered into Department of Justice Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
“Mariposa County Government and the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office, along with the many communities of Mariposa County, extend our sincere condolences to both families.”