Before his death Monday night, Glenn Alan Flook proved himself a hero to his neighbors.
The lanky, blond-haired man who carried himself with as much aplomb as any Briton can in Southern California, had repeatedly come to the aid of neighbors threatened by flood and mudslides when Monday’s El Nino-generated storm struck. Then, a wall of mud came crashing down on him.
Neighbor Debbie Ripley, 42, said she last saw the 25-year-old construction framer after he helped her scramble over the roof of her home to escape from a mudslide.
“He was helping everyone,” said Ripley, who escaped without serious injury. “He was a hero.”
For those who knew Flook as a familiar figure in the neighborhood, news of his death was especially tragic. They recalled he was an athletic type who built a wooden skateboard ramp outside his home and spent endless hours with his friends engaged in their passion.
“He was a big teddy bear,” said Brett Daly, who owns an auto repair business next to Flook’s house. “He just wanted to help everybody.”
Daly said Flook had talked to him on Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. Flook was planning to bring in his car the next day for repairs.
“He would have done anything for anybody,” Daly said.
One of Flook’s neighbors, Pat Hart, said that when she read a newspaper article Wednesday detailing her neighbor’s death, she at first didn’t realize it was about him.
“You know, I saw the name in the newspaper and it didn’t click that it was him,” she said. “There was no picture. But then I realized it was Glenn. . . . He was just a marvelous guy.”
“You see that ramp?” Hart asked. “Well, Glenn and his friends made that thing so they could skateboard. Now look at it. The mud just destroyed it.”
Flook had climbed to the roof of his own house when flooding and a mudslide descended on his neighborhood with a loud rumbling noise late Monday. He, like his girlfriend, Jenifer Segraves, and her father, Gary Segraves, all scurried there to safety.
Cold and shivering, the group trudged through the mud--waist-deep in places--in the dark and sought refuge under the eaves of a nearby home. Its owners, Ann and Charles Quilter, not only invited them in but gave them towels and warm clothing and invited them to stay the night.
Thirty minutes later, the Quilter home was hit by a massive mudslide, throwing Flook and several others through windows and collapsing the room and much of the house into a moving mud flow. Flook’s friends were found. But his body was discovered wedged beneath a mobile home about 50 yards downstream.
Friends of Flook’s girlfriend said she has had difficulty coping with his death and the disaster. She remained hospitalized Wednesday. At her father’s home in Arch Beach Heights in Laguna Beach, friends of the Segraves left flowers and notes of sympathy. One note to Jenifer Segraves from a girlfriend simply said “I’ll call you later. I love you Jeni.”
From her home in South Woodham Ferrers, England, about 35 miles east of London, Flook’s mother, Jan, remembered her son for his easygoing manner.
“ ‘No worries, man,’ ” was his mantra, she said in a telephone interview. “People who met him casually couldn’t know the private Glenn. He’s a pussycat, a teddy bear really.”
“Glenn was not an obvious hero to people who met him casually,” his mother added, “but perhaps what has happened proves just what sort of guy he was.”
Also contributing to this report was Times staff writer Erika Chavez.
David Reyes can be reached at (714) 966-7700. His e-mail address is email@example.com