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Two of the 14 casualties reported thus far in the wake of California’s tragic Christmas Day mudslides included two individuals at the 153-site San Bernardino KOA campground in the small town of Devore – one of them the manager of that Southern California park.
Mike Gast, communications director for Kampgrounds of America Inc., Billings, Montana, confirmed that campground manager Janice Arlene Stout-Bradley, 60, and guest Carol Eugene Nuss, 57, of Wellington, Kans., were killed in the mudslides, triggered by heavy rains and flash floods in wildfire-ravaged areas of California’s San Bernardino County.
Stout-Bradley was chairman of the governance committee of the California Travel Parks Association (CTPA). She also was chairman of REC PAC, CTPA’s political action committee.
Gast said all of the approximately 35 RV campers had been evacuated and the park, owned by John Gordon, had been closed to the public.
The lakeside campground, promoted for its mountain views, had also been evacuated during the recent wildfires that swept Southern California. Gast said Nuss was an insurance adjuster doing work in the area as a result of those wildfires.
Another flash flood, about five miles away from Devore, ripped through the St. Sophia Camp – a Greek Orthodox-affiliated campground in Waterman Canyon, with 12 deaths reported as of Monday morning. As searches continued in the area, there were reports of more storms and rain that could further impede rescue workers.
Gast said “about half the (KOA) campground had been wiped out,” with the camp store and recreation center sustaining serious damage. On the other hand, he added, parts of the campground were virtually untouched.
The Associated Press reported that Stout-Bradley, who had managed the facility for around 10 years, had organized a Thanksgiving dinner to celebrate the return of campers after the fall wildfires.
AP also reported that Stout-Bradley’s two granddaughters, Kari Best, 16, and Jamie Best, 13, had been on the phone with their grandmother all day Thursday getting updates on the flooding. However, she had told them that she wasn’t worried about her own welfare. The girls said county officials told them their grandmother was standing on the front porch of her mobile home when a wave of water crashed into her, killing her.