Search teams find 21st victim of Montecito mudslide

Faviola Benitez Calderon has been identified as the 21st fatality of the Montecito mudslides.
(Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Departmented/AP )

A recovery team searching through debris from the Montecito mudslide recovered the body of 28-year-old Faviola Benitez Calderon on Saturday morning, bringing the number of known fatalities to 21.

Benitez Calderon is the fourth member of her family confirmed to have died in the mudslide, caused by heavy rain on hillsides destabilized by the Thomas fire, the largest in state history.

The bodies of Benitez Calderon’s 10-year old son, Jonathan Benitez; Jonathan’s 3-year-old cousin, Kaily Benitez; and Kaily’s mother, 27-year-old Marilyn Ramos, had already been found.

Benetiz Calderon’s 2-year-old son Ian, whom rescuers found on Jan. 9 with his clothes torn off and caked in mud nearly a mile from where he had last been seen, survived.


Benitez Calderon’s remains were located with the help of a search dog about 10 a.m. Saturday, in the 100 block of Santo Tomas lane, officials said.

Two more people remain missing, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department: 2-year-old Lydia Sutthithepa and 17-year-old Jack Cantin.

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10:55 a.m.: This article was updated with new information about Calderon’s 2-year-old son, Ian, who survived the Jan. 9 mudslide.

This article was originally posted at 9:50 a.m.