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Service Planned in Deadly Calif. Mudslide

December 28, 2003

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) _ A memorial service will be held Sunday for seven people who were found in the wreckage of a mudslide that crashed into a mountain church camp in a canyon burned bare by fall wildfires.

Search crews will spend their third day looking for seven people who remain missing from St. Sophia Camp in the San Bernardino Mountains. Two bodies were recovered Saturday near the camp chapel that was damaged by a Christmas Day mudslide.

It wasn’t immediately known whether the bodies recovered Saturday were those of children or adults. Four of the other five bodies were of children, and several children were among those who have not yet been located.

Another mudslide Thursday killed two people at another campground about five miles away.

Officials planned to resume the search at 8 a.m. Sunday. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Beavers would not characterize it as a search for bodies, but was not optimistic.

``We’ll continue searching,″ she said. ``It’s very difficult for someone to survive in these conditions and in these temperatures overnight.″

Four victims were identified Saturday, including two daughters of the caretaker of a church camp. Rescue crews found the bodies of Wendy Monzon, 17, and Raquel Monzon, 9, two children of missing caretaker Jorge Monzon, according to the Rev. Emilio Ruedas of the Church of God Prophecy in San Bernardino.

Monzon’s wife, Carla, and his six-month-old son also were missing, Ruedas said. The Monzon family attends his church.

Others killed were 11-year-old Jose Pablo Navarro and 29-year-old Ramon Meza, both of San Bernardino. The body of a male 12 to 14 years old had not been identified.

A bilingual memorial service will be held 3 p.m. Sunday at the Church of God Prophecy in San Bernardino.

The violent mudslides were triggered Thursday when a powerful downpour struck the area, which had seen nearly all its vegetation devoured by the wildfires.

Twenty-seven people were believed to have been spending Christmas Day with Monzon at Saint Sophia Camp, a Greek Orthodox facility, when the mudslide roared through. Fourteen people were rescued.

The camp is run by Greek Orthodox parishes, but there was no organized camp event on Christmas Day, said the Rev. John Bakas, dean of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles.

Many of those visiting Monzon were Guatemalan immigrants who belonged to the Church of God Prophecy in San Bernardino, Ruedas said. Most of the children attended Sunday school there.

Two victims of another mudslide at a KOA campground in Devore were identified by county authorities as Janice Arlene Stout-Bradley, 60, of San Bernardino and Carol Eugene Nuss, 57.

Stout-Bradley was the campground manager. Her granddaughters said they had spoken to her on the phone just minutes before she was killed.

Nuss was an insurance adjuster who arrived in California from Kansas about a month ago to handle wildfire claims.