2 Missing in Recent Flash Flooding Presumed Dead

MODESTO (AP) — Two people missing since last week's flash flooding in central California were presumed dead after a large-scale search effort uncovered their damaged vehicles but failed to locate them, officials said Monday.

The 67-year-old man and 72-year-old woman have been missing since heavy rain and flooding in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Modesto on Thursday, the Mariposa County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. The two were believed to have been swept away in separate incidents tied to the storms.

"Unfortunately, due to the force of this storm, we do presume both deceased," the sheriff's office said.

The flash floods turned creeks into surging rivers of fast-moving water riddled with broken debris.

"It is unlikely they could have survived their situation," the statement said.

(Credit: Tuolumne County Sheriff)

Authorities identified the woman as Carol Brown, 72, of the community of Catheys Valley near Merced, who went to check on horses in the heavy rain and flooding. When she did not return home in 30 minutes, her husband went to look for her and found her car on its side in a surging creek, the statement said.

Separately, the wife of John Honesto, 67, reported him missing to the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office late Thursday when he did not return home from a substitute teaching job in Coulterville.

It appears his car was caught up in flood waters on Highway 132 at the Piney Creek Culvert, according to the Mariposa County Sheriff's Office. The car was found about a mile downstream, but Honesto has not been located.

"It's been five days. And with more time passing, and after having seen the carnage of the flash floods and the condition of the car, it's becoming much more unlikely that he'll be coming home," John's wife Lynn told FOX40.

John Honesto is a father of four. Members of his large family are gathered in La Grange, leaning on each other for support.

Their faces lit up when as they described his bright personality and his knack for being a great story-teller. He took up teaching as a passion after retiring from law enforcement.

The family asks that people in the area still keep an eye out for him so they can have closure.

"Keep praying," Lynn Honesto requested. "Just keep on praying. We can use all the prayer we can get."

More than 70 personnel searched for the two throughout the weekend using a helicopter, drones, divers and rescue dogs, but the search will now be scaled back, the statement said. Both will still be listed as missing. The sheriff's office "will continue to liaison with the families and monitor the search area," according to a Monday evening bulletin.

Crews kept repairing numerous roads damaged by the flash flooding throughout Mariposa County, near Fresno in the Sierra foothills.