Search Resumes for Seven Mudslide Victims

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) -- Emergency crews returned to the debris-covered site of a mountain church camp Sunday to search for seven people missing since a Christmas Day mudslide, while at the church many of the victims attended, members prepared for a memorial service.

It was the third day of the search in the aftermath of a rainstorm that sent mud, boulders and uprooted trees sliding through Saint Sophia Camp in Waterman Canyon, an area of the San Bernardino Mountains devastated by wildfires just two months earlier.

The search had been suspended overnight because of the danger of the still unstable ground, San Bernardino County Fire Marshal Peter Brierty said.

Rescues crews on Saturday had found the bodies of two victims buried in mud near the camp's chapel. Five others - four children, ages 9 to 17, and a 29-year-old man - had been found earlier, some swept more than a mile from the camp by the mud flow.

Two other victims, both adults, were found dead following a mudslide at the Devore KOA campground about five miles away.

``We'll continue searching,'' Sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Beavers said, but she added: ``it's very difficult for someone to survive in these conditions and in these temperatures overnight.''

She also warned people living the near the burned areas of the mountains to be aware of the threat of more mudslides, particularly with more rain expected Sunday night.

``Don't put your life in jeopardy,'' she said. ``We don't want to have another situation like the one we have here now.''

Many of the 28 people believed to have been celebrating Christmas at Saint Sofia Camp the day of the mudslides were Guatemalan immigrants who belonged to the Church of God Prophecy in San Bernardino, and most of the children attended Sunday school together, the Rev. Emilio Ruedas said.

Fourteen people from the camp were rescued, including one man who saw his daughter and wife swept away as he clung to his 3-year-old child.

The camp's caretaker, Jorge Monzon, and his wife and infant son were among those still missing, Ruedas said. Monzon's daughters, Wendy, 17, and Raquel, 9, were among the dead and would be remembered at the memorial service Sunday afternoon at their church in San Bernardino, he said.

Others killed at the camp were identified as Jose Pablo Navarro, 11, and Ramon Meza, 29. Another boy, believed to be 12 to 14 years old, had not been identified. It wasn't immediately known whether the two bodies recovered Saturday were those of children or adults.

Rescue crews have been poking through acres of mud and debris in the search for victims and on Saturday used a helicopter to fly over the Santa Ana River because pressure from the torrents of mud could have pushed victims miles downstream.

At the KOA in Devore, Janice Arlene Stout-Bradley, 60, had just talked to her granddaughters on the phone Thursday, minutes before she was killed in the mudslide that swept through the campground she managed.

Kari Best, 16, and Jamie Best, 13, said their grandmother had been giving them updates on the flood and wasn't worried. She was even baking brownies, Jamie Best said. The girls said officials had told them Stout-Bradley was standing on the front porch of her mobile home when a wave of water crashed into her, killing her instantly.

At the campground, mud reached to the bottoms of the windows of several buildings and was higher than a car on both sides of the road up the canyon. A side of the campground store was ripped away, and toys and clothing littered the area.

Also killed there was Carol Eugene Nuss, 57, an insurance adjuster who had arrived in California from Kansas about a month earlier to handle wildfire claims.

The violent mudslides were triggered Thursday when a powerful downpour struck the area, which had seen nearly all its vegetation devoured by the wildfires.