Dr. Mark Montgomery and his family returned from a Brazilian vacation only two days before the mudslide that took his and his daughter Caroline's life came crashing down a hillside into their two-story home.
Montgomery's wife and oldest daughter had left for a business trip to New York soon after returning home Sunday. He stayed behind with his 22-year-old daughter, Caroline Montgomery, who had just graduated from Barnard College in New York, and his 20-year-old son, Duffy.
The three were asleep before dawn Tuesday when the mudslide slammed into their home. The 54-year-old physician, sleeping downstairs, was swept away.
His daughter, sleeping upstairs, was engulfed in mud and other debris. As Duffy tried to save her she died in his arms, said Dr. Michael Behrman, a longtime family friend. Her brother suffered a broken shoulder blade and other injuries.
Behrman had been staying in the Montgomery family's home while they vacationed, his own home having burned down during the devastating wildfire that struck the area last month.
'Having a house burned down and losing all your stuff doesn't seem like a very big deal now,' he told The Associated Press on Friday. 'It's losing Mark and his daughter and the utter devastation of the area that has gone along with that. 'I - like everybody here - knew several of the other people who died.'