The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office has been searching for two missing persons, Carol Brown and John Honesto, since the storm and flooding event that happened on March 22.
Brown, 72, of Catheys Valley left her house to check on horses due to the heavy rain and flooding. Brown did not return to her house after 30 minutes and her husband began to look for her. He found the utility vehicle she was driving laying on its side in the creek.
The area Brown was last seen is a seasonal creek that is normally 3-4 feet wide and 0-1 feet deep, searchers on scene have estimated the flow of the flooding water reached 150 ft wide and 10 ft deep at its peak. This fast moving water was riddled with twisted and broken debris and would have been impossible for a person to navigate. This waterway continues to the Bear Creek Reservoir which is located about 10 miles downstream towards Merced County.
The debris field in the search area is extensive in size. Searchers guided by California Highway Patrol did locate what was believed to be her jacket. Nothing else has been located.
John Honesto, 67, of Don Pedro was reported missing to the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office on March 22 at 10 p.m. by his wife when he did not return home from his substitute teaching job at the Coulterville / Greeley Hill School. He is a loved teacher by the students.
On Thursday, March 22, Honesto was last seen as he left the Coulterville area to return to his home in the Lake Don Pedro area. Honesto’s normal route home would take him down Hwy 132 where the large highway washout occurred during the storm. It appears through investigation that John crossed the flooded and washed out section of Hwy 132 at the piney creek culvert.
On Friday, March 23, at 10:45 a.m. Mariposa Sheriff’s Deputies searching for Honesto located his destroyed vehicle over one mile downstream from the Highway 132 washout, however, Honesto was not located inside.
Search teams, supported by all our surrounding cities & state agencies, have searched for Brown and Honesto non-stop day and night.
Over 70 personnel have been continuously searching. This consists of Ground Searchers, Swift Water Teams, Boating Rescue, Drones, Helicopters and Search Dogs. Search Management Teams have been organizing and directing the efforts in coordination with the Mariposa County Emergency Operations Center.
The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office has been assisted in the search operations by 12 allied agencies, which include; Tuolumne County Sheriff, Madera County Sheriff, Kern County Sheriff, Fresno County Sheriff, Merced County Sheriff, Stanislaus County Sheriff, Calaveras County Sheriff, California Highway Patrol H40 Helicopter, CARDA Rescue and Cadaver Dogs, California Office of Emergency Services, CALFIRE and Monterey County Sheriff.
Unfortunately due to the force of the storm the sheriff’s office has presumed both to be deceased. This evening, they are planning to reduce the mutual aid teams. The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office will continue to liaison with the families and monitor the search area.
Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office are sensitive to the families and do hope they can effect recoveries soon, however, due to the destruction evident in the search area, and throughout the entire county, it is unlikely they could have survived their situation.
Both Brown and Honesto will continue to be listed as missing. Both have been entered into Department of Justice Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
The Mariposa County Government, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office along with the many communities of Mariposa County extend their sincere condolences to both families.