Body of California Flood Victim Found Three Years After He Went Missing

The body of a man who went missing in a flood three years ago has been found by hikers in Northern California, authorities have confirmed.

John Honesto, 67, of Don Pedro, Mariposa County, disappeared while driving his truck down State Route 132 near Coulterville during a major storm on March 22, 2018.

During the flood, water swept over the highway and although Mariposa County sheriff's deputies found his truck in a culvert the next day, Honesto wasn't in it.

Officials believed that Honesto crossed the washed-out section of Highway 132 at the Piney Creek Culvert.

A statement from the Mariposa County sheriff's office on Monday read: "On January 31, 2021, hikers in the area of Piney Creek located a body in the mud. Mariposa County Sheriff's Deputies recovered the remains and transported them to the Coroner's Office.

"Mr. Honesto was identified using dental records. Mr. Honesto has been returned to his family; we are thankful they are finally able to have closure," the statement said.

California was also affected by severe flooding in January 2017, with the Russian River rising three foot above flood stage. Over 570,000 customers of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company lost power in California during the floods and damage to California roads and highways alone was estimated to cause more than $1 billion in damage. It caused landslides in Big Sur.

California is particularly vulnerable to extreme weather, including floods, thunderstorms and wildfires. Every single county in the state has declared a flood disaster several times. Those most at risk to flooding are in areas of cities with poor drainage systems, as well as low-lying coastal areas and in the state's many valleys.

Floods caused 92 fatalities in the United States in 2019, according to data from the National Weather Service. That year, which is covered by the most recent annual data provided by the agency, floods accounted for three of the 14 natural disasters that caused at least $1 billion in damage. In total, flooding impacted 14 million Americans last year and put another 200 million at risk—and that excludes hurricanes and other extreme weather events that often lead to floods.

In November last year, Tropical Storm Eta battered Florida and parts of central America, killing 211 people and causing many more to go missing.

California floods in Guernville
Homes sit in floodwaters in a flooded neighborhood on February 28, 2019 in Guerneville, California. Floods are common in the state, and one man's body was found in Mariposa County on January 31 after he went missing in a flood three years ago. Justin Sullivan/Getty