Santa Barbara- S County

CHP dash camera video captures emotional first moments of Montecito mudslide

Officers barely get out and then help others

Dashcam video shows challenges to first CHP unit on the scene of the Montecito mudflow disaster. (Credit : CHP)

MONTECITO, Calif. - The first moments of the January 9 Montecito mudflow show California Highway Patrol officers in an out of control vehicle. The tense incident is captured on the dash cam.

Captain Cindy Pontes reviewed the video the morning of the disaster and says she thought she might lose those officers to the powerful water and debris flow coming down from the Montecito hills.

The patrol team was briefed the night before to be alert to the weather warnings and not to get up in the hills

In the case of the two officers responding that morning about 3:30 a.m. they were called out on an explosion and fire in the area.

After the flow rocked their patrol unit around they got some traction and made it to Coast Village Road.

That's where they radioed in to their dispatch about the unfolding incident.
On the video, you hear the officer saying, " there is a very active mudslide coming down Olive Mill towards the 101 right now.  It overtook our vehicle and we were barely able to escape and we are down by the freeway now but there is a lot of debris and a lot of flow coming down "

Pontes said she was, " just so proud of them that they had their wits about them and get their radio traffic  out so they could get word so that other units one not to come into this area,  and  two to get the traffic break started for the freeway."    

In the video you can see a citizen on the roadside and officers yell "get out of here!"

A white SUV is also backing up from Olive Mill Road as the muck is moving down.

The radio information was called vital  "to other units to shut down the freeway so we didn't have more people stuck and killed on the freeway..We didn't have anybody killed on the freeway," said Pontes.
"They are absolutely heroes in this and they saved many lives."


The complete video is below:



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