Death toll rises to six as deadly storm smashes into California


A deadly California storm has taken the lives of six people as the damaging weather continues to knock out historic piers, cause mudslides, and close down highways. 

Gary Yules, 72, Mei Keng Lam, 57, Katherine ‘Kathy’ Martinez, 61, Steven Sampson, 45, Aeon ‘Goldie’ Tocchini, 2, and a 19-year-old Solano County woman have lost their lived since the bomb cyclone crashed into the West Coast. 

The region has been slammed with deadly storm after deadly storm since New Year’s Eve, leading to high water levels, flash flooding, mudslides, destroyed piers and leaving thousands without power. 

As of Friday evening, 48,000 Californians were still without electricity, as the state braces for another ‘atmospheric river,’ which is expected to hit San Francisco later on Friday. 

Aeon ‘Goldie’ Tocchini, 2, (pictured) was one of the six people to have lost their lives in the deadly storms that have devastated California since New Year’s. He died after three redwood trees fell on his family’s mobile home 

Katherine 'Kathy' Martinez, 61, of Orland was found in her submerged car in Sacramento

Mei Keng Lam, 57, of San Leandro was found in a field

Katherine ‘Kathy’ Martinez, 61, of Orland, and Mei Keng Lam, 57,  of San Leandro lost their lives, in addition to Gary Yules, 72, Steven Sampson, 45, and a 19-year-old Solano County woman

Tocchini, a toddler, lost his life after three redwood trees fell on his family’s mobile home on Thursday. 

When Volunteer Fire Chief Ronald Lunardi arrived on the scene, he said the child’s father Dan Tocchini came outside holding an unconscious Aeon. 

‘A frantic father came out of the house holding the child. He was kind of covered in debris and he said my child is not breathing,’ the chief told ABC News. ‘We are in a rural location out here so my first thought was get him into my truck and let’s get him out to the main road because he is on a long dirt driveway.’ 

As they worked their way to the main road, Lunardi gave Dan CPR instructions until they met up with rescue crews, who took over. However, Aeon eventually succumbed to his injuries. 

His father and mother Aisha and his siblings Eden and Danny were not injured. 

His family remembers the blonde child as ‘Goldie’ because ‘he shined like the sun’, the GoFundMe read. 

‘If you ever had the joy of meeting Goldie, you would know the light that I speak of. His light still shines so brightly in our hearts, and always will,’ it read. ‘Goldie loved to dance, music moved his soul. He was kind, gentle, and had the most loving spirit. He loved the outdoors like his mama and his daddy was his hero. He was deeply adored by his family and he instantly stole the hearts of those around him.’ 

Martinez, 61, of Orland, California, was found dead in her submerged car on New Hope Road in Sacramento on Wednesday. 

Her family found her car two days after they reported her missing.

A pier was destroyed in Seacliff State Beach (pictured) after the deadly storm on Thursday

A pier was destroyed in Seacliff State Beach (pictured) after the deadly storm on Thursday 

Massively flooding ruined homes in Soquel Creek in Capitola, California. This is the second big storm to hit the state since New Year's

Massively flooding ruined homes in Soquel Creek in Capitola, California. This is the second big storm to hit the state since New Year’s 

The bomb cyclone caused major damage in Capitola (pictured) as part of the Capitola Warf collapsed

The bomb cyclone caused major damage in Capitola (pictured) as part of the Capitola Warf collapsed 

‘It’s upsetting in this trying time that we were doing all the footwork to find her,’ her son told KCRA. 

Hours later, Lam , 57, of San Leandro, California, was discovered in a field near Dillard Road around 10pm in Sacramento. 

Steven Sampson, 45, of McAlester, Oklahoma, and Gary Yules, 72, were found earlier in the week after the New Year’s Eve storm. 

Sampson was found inside his submerged vehicle near Highway 99 on Sunday.

Yules was found a few days after his 72nd birthday after cypress tree fell on him at Lighthouse Field State Beach in Santa Cruz on New Year’s Eve. 

The upcoming storm will be the third storm to devastate the state since New Year’s Eve and bring another round of high wind gust and rain. It is likely to dump several more inches of rain on a region already saturated from repeated downpours since late December, renewing risks of flash flooding and mudslides, the NWS said.

Crews have rescued several people due to flooding and high water levels

Crews have rescued several people due to flooding and high water levels 

A business in Capitola was left in ruins after the storm. The state is bracing for another 'atmospheric river' storm to hit this weekend

A business in Capitola was left in ruins after the storm. The state is bracing for another ‘atmospheric river’ storm to hit this weekend 

Zelda's restaurants had a mountain of debris in their dining areas after ocean swells pushed it through the window and front wall

Zelda’s restaurants had a mountain of debris in their dining areas after ocean swells pushed it through the window and front wall 

In addition to heavy rains, up to two feet of snow was expected to fall over the weekend in higher elevations of the Sierras, where accumulations of a foot to 18 inches or more were measured earlier this week, the weather service said.

On Friday, much of the northern two-thirds of California, the most populous state in the United States, was under flood watches, gale-force wind advisories, and winter-storm warnings as forecasters urged residents to prepare for the deluge and stay off roads in flood-prone areas.

The ominous forecast comes on the heels of a massive Pacific storm that unleashed hurricane-force wind gusts, pounding surf, soaking rains and heavy snow across California for two days. The northern portion of the state was hardest hit.

Howling winds uprooted trees already weakened by prolonged drought and poorly anchored in rain-soaked soil, taking down power lines with them and blocking roadways across the region. Road travel was also disrupted by flash floods and rock slides.

High surf and runoff from heavy rains combined to flood several blocks in the seaside city of Santa Cruz, and heavy waves tore up wooden piers in the adjacent town of Capitola and nearby Seacliff State Beach.

One man leapt from his car after he slid into trees on Thursday. He did not suffer any injuries

One man leapt from his car after he slid into trees on Thursday. He did not suffer any injuries 

A couple clear up debris outside their home on Thursday. More than 40,000 Californians are still without power

A couple clear up debris outside their home on Thursday. More than 40,000 Californians are still without power 

A man walks on a bridge next to high water in San Francisco. The city is expected to get more rain today after a week of intense rainfall

A man walks on a bridge next to high water in San Francisco. The city is expected to get more rain today after a week of intense rainfall 

Cal Fire San Mateo–Santa Cruz Unit shared a video of the dangerously high surf splashing water onto the roadway, where drivers slowly traversed near El Granada on Thursday. 

El Granada remained under a high surf advisory until 9pm local time on Friday.  

Further north, pounding waves broke through the rear doors of the historic Point Cabrillo lighthouse in Mendocino County, flooding its ground-floor museum, the Mendocino Voice newspaper reported.

The two-day storm, which ended Thursday night, was powered by an immense atmospheric stream of moisture from the tropical Pacific and a sprawling, hurricane-scale low-pressure system known as a bomb cyclone. 

High wind gust damaged a gas station in San Francisco on Wednesday

High wind gust damaged a gas station in San Francisco on Wednesday 

It marked the third and strongest atmospheric river to strike California since early last week. Research predicts that climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of such rain storms, punctuating extensive periods of extreme drought.

The rapid succession of storms left downtown San Francisco drenched in 10.3 inches of rain from December 26 through January 4, the wettest 10-day stretch recorded there in more than 150 years, since 1871, according to the NWS.

The highest all-time rainfall total ever documented over 10 days in the city’s downtown was 14.37 inches, an 1862 record the NWS said would likely stand through the downpours to come.

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