Search for those swept away by Ontario floodwaters during storm comes up empty

People in a raft in a flood channel as others stand on shore
Members of the Ontario Fire Department search for possible drowning victims in floodwaters on Tuesday.
(Ontario Fire Department)

Authorities identified the person who drowned Tuesday morning in Ontario as the search for at least three others swept away by floodwaters during a record-breaking storm turned up empty for a third straight day.

The man was identified Thursday by the San Bernardino County coroner as Anthony Ray Lopez Sr., 63, of Ontario.

The Ontario Police Department responded about 9:46 a.m. Tuesday to a drowning report at a water basin at East Philadelphia Street and South Baker Avenue. Lopez was pronounced dead at the scene about 12:04 p.m.

About 10 people were swept out around 9:45 a.m. in the 1200 block of East 4th Street, according to the Ontario Fire Department. Five people have been rescued and at least three missing-person reports have been filed with the Ontario Police Department. A fourth person might also be missing based on eyewitness accounts.

The floodwaters swept away a homeless encampment near John Galvin Park, set up along a wash that filters downstream into a retention basin near Philadelphia and Baker, fire officials said.


Josephine Dominguez, 28, was one of the people still missing Thursday, according to the Fire Department. The identities of the two others haven’t been released.

The recovery mission, involving the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s dive-and-rescue team and other local partners, was expected to continue for at least one more day after no survivors or bodies were found Thursday.

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department divers, who assisted in the search effort, did not recover any bodies Thursday and finished searching the area they were asked to focus on, said Gloria Huerta, a department spokesperson.

“We will not be out there tomorrow,” Huerta said.

She referred The Times to Ontario authorities for further information.

An Ontario Fire Department representative could not be reached for an update Thursday night.

The storm, which has caused at least two deaths, was the first November hurricane to make landfall in Florida in 37 years.

Nov. 10, 2022

Randy Tomes, 31, who has been unhoused since he was 17, previously stayed at the channel by John Galvin Park, where the people were swept away Tuesday. He said the area was usually dry.

“The city lost a father,” he said about Lopez. “He was a good man.”

Miguel Batease, 26, said his sister-in-law Dominguez wasn’t homeless but had known some of the people who were living in the channel and went to speak with them Tuesday during the storm. He said their family hasn’t heard from her in days.


“She would go to where all the homeless people are to speak the word of God,” he said. “It’s very unfortunate. When Mother Nature comes, there’s no fighting it. It’s very sad.”

The storm, which originated from the Gulf of Alaska, pounded Southern California with powerful winds and drenched the region in more than an inch of rain in most spots, with mountain areas getting a couple of inches of rainfall, and snow in higher elevations, according to the National Weather Service.

Rainfall records were broken at Los Angeles International Airport and in Burbank, Long Beach, Lancaster and Palmdale.

Times staff writer Gregory Yee contributed to this report.