Second body found in Ontario wash after storm swept away about 10 people last week
A second person has been found in a wash in Ontario after about 10 people were swept away by floodwaters during last week’s record-breaking storm.
The body was spotted Monday about 9:40 a.m. on the southern part of the basin near East Philadelphia Street and South Baker Avenue, according to Ontario Fire Chief Ray Gayk, who didn’t have any information to release Monday regarding the person’s age, sex, identity or cause of death.
The person’s identity was not available Monday night and will be released following the San Bernardino County coroner’s investigation and notification of next of kin, said Dan Bell, Ontario’s communications and community relations director.
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.
A man, identified by the coroner as Anthony Ray Lopez Sr., 63, of Ontario, was found in the drainage basin and pronounced dead at the scene about 12:04 p.m.
Anthony Ray Lopez Sr., 63, was identified as the person who drowned Tuesday as the search for at least three others who were swept away turned up empty for a third straight day.
About 10 people were swept out in the 1200 block of East 4th Street, according to the Ontario Fire Department. Five people have been rescued and at least two missing-person reports have been filed related to the incident with the Ontario Police Department. A third missing-person report was filed in which the person was last seen near the storm drain at the same time the group was swept by the floodwaters, but officials don’t yet know if the incident is related.
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.
“As far as we know, there were homeless people in the storm drains and that’s when they got washed away by the surge of water and they ended up in the actual storm drain system,” Gayk said.
The body was discovered near the water in Long Beach around 6:20 a.m. Monday morning.
Authorities plan to continue their “passive” search Monday for the others swept away, according to Gayk.
“We’re not going into the water unless we see something that we need to go into the water for,” he said. “The water is very shallow at this point and there’s a lot of debris coming out. It’s dangerous for crews to go in there and actively search at this point.”
Randy Tomes, 31, said he has been homeless since he was 17 and he previously stayed at the channel by John Galvin Park, where the people were swept away.
The area was usually dry, Tomes said. He had been sleeping near a car wash in the area when he awoke to police sirens during the storm.
“They’re all my friends,” Tomes said. “They got swept away.”
Moderate Santa Ana winds are expected to develop Tuesday morning and continue through the day. “This is going to be the biggest event this season,” the National Weather Service says.
Miguel Batease, 26, said his sister-in-law Josephine Dominguez, 28, wasn’t homeless but had known some of the people who were living in the channel and went to speak with them last week during the storm. He said last week that their family hadn’t heard from her.
“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 Long Beach Fire Department also discovered a dead body near the Los Angeles River in Long Beach around 6:20 a.m. Monday, according to the Long Beach Police Department. The person’s identity hasn’t been released. The Los Angeles County coroner was called to assist in the investigation.
The storm, which originated from the Gulf of Alaska, pounded Southern California with powerful winds and drenched the region with 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.
Times staff writer Gregory Yee contributed to this report.
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