MONTECITO (CBSLA) — Amidst all the tragedy and destruction, there have been a few miracles. CBS2’s Randy Paige reports on one of them.
Santa Barbara County Fire captain paramedic Bryan Fernandez was in the right place at the right time a few minutes after the wall of mud and debris came through early Tuesday morning.
“One of the other captains and I heard something so we all stopped and I heard crying.”
Captain Fernandez says they realized the crying was coming from the ground directly beneath them, so they started digging.
“When we got down a couple of feet I put my hand on the baby’s leg I wasn’t thinking this is what we’re hearing and seeing, so we kept removing stuff and eventually the baby was free and it was laying on its right hand side completely naked, screaming and crying.
There, in his arms,was a muddy 2-year-old naked baby, and he was alive.
“How it didn’t get impaled or suffocated in the mud, it’s just an absolute miracle,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez says, after the baby was rescued, he was able to carry other young kids to safety on his back — including an 8-year-old boy, the same age as his son.
And Captain Fernandez says when he looked down and saw the crying muddy baby in his arms he thought of his own children waiting for him back home.
“I hugged my kids so tight when I came home and got to see them and I told them that they’re what makes me strong to be able to do this.”
Meanwhile the search for the missing continues. A portion of the 101 freeway is still covered in a soup of mud, rock and debris. Officials announced today it would not open as hoped on Monday. Even as crews work feverishly day and night – there is too much work to be done.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff released a new list of seven people they still cannot find – the youngest just two years old.
Also among the missing is 28-year-old Faviola Calderon, a mother whose son died in the mudslides. Their home was on E. Valley Road. Very little is left of the neighborhood.
Robin Lewis says Calderon was her friend and housekeeper. They even spoke the night the storm hit, the night Calerdon went missing.
Much of Montecito remains buried in mud. It’s become so dangerous authorities have even closed off roads that were once open. The Army Corps of Engineers sent teams to analyze and stabilize the area.
Authorities have also expanded the evacuation zones because of safety fears. Basic services, like clean water and sanitation are also compromised, but some residents have refused to leave.