PALMDALE ( — Officials released the identity of a man Wednesday whose body was found within a minivan buried in mud from last week’s debris flow in Palmdale.

According to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, Robert Michael Rasmussen, 49, of Palmdale, has been identified as the victim.

“He was a happy guy,” said the victim’s brother, Ross Driscoll. “A loving guy who was always going out of his way for everybody else. He always put people before himself.”

Deputies said Rasmussen had relatives living in the area.

The vehicle was discovered around 12:50 p.m. on Tuesday while maintenance workers used a backhoe to clear out mud and debris located in the 41800 block of Karen Drive, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported.

It took authorities 11 hours to lift the minivan up from the ground, which was buried within six feet of mud.

On Thursday, powerful rainstorms sent a river of mud flowing down a mountain in the area.

Witnesses like Bruce Horwood reported seeing the Chevy Venture being swept away.

“It was coming straight up the road and then all of a sudden the water hit,” explained Horwood. “It just went over the car and then turned it sideways. Then the van just went straight in.”

The cause of Rasmussen’s death has not been released.

Meanwhile, in response to significant storm damage, the City and County has declared a local state of emergency.

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