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Authorities are still searching for missing people after tragic mudslides swept through the Montecito, California area on Tuesday, injuring dozens and killing at least 17 people. For one grief-stricken man, the search for his mother ended in tragedy as he learned that she had been swept away to her death.

Hayden Gower had been searching for his 69-year-old mother, Josie, a retired nurse, near her home in southern California. Good Morning America captured Gower’s emotional search, as he searched for any sign of her and explained that she had been swept out of her house.

“I don’t know why she didn’t stay upstairs,” he says.

According to new reports, within hours of getting the Good Morning America interview, Josie was confirmed dead.

According to The Daily Mail, friends said Josie’s body had been carried “several miles” away by the tremendous force of the river of mud and water, which flowed through the area Tuesday morning.

Josie, a grandmother, lived in a home which was on the border between mandatory and voluntary evacuation zones. According to a Facebook post by her daughter-in-law, Sarah:

“Her home on East valley was swept away in the Thomas mudslides and she with it. There are no words. I have never met anyone quite like her and never will again. She lived for her kids and for our kids. A loyal and loving friend to me and to so, so many. She was just simply the most loving, cheerful, beautiful, strong, independent force. We will miss her so.”

Seventeen people have died in the mudslides, and another 17 remained missing as of Thursday morning.

Residents and local officials have been “stunned” by the damage the mudslides did.

Below, videos and images show Gowden’s desperate search for his mother, as well as coverage of the damage and terrifying intensity of the mudslides.

The following detail other families affected by the horrific mudslide.



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