Motorist Joo Hwan Lee Dies in Southern California Mudslides


A series of thunderstorms triggered destructive mudslides in and around San Bernardino County in Southern California, swallowing a vehicle and killing its driver this past Sunday near Mt. Baldy, according to authorities.


The man found dead was identified by Lt. Fred Corral with the Los Angeles County coroner’s office as Joo Hwan Lee of El Segundo. Lee was reportedly hiking before his death, but his family members at his apartment declined to speak to local media.

A fatal flash flood reportedly swept off Lee’s vehicle into a creek, according to San Bernardino Country Fire Department. Several others were trapped in homes or vehicles and were later rescued.

“We had a freak summer storm that brought a lot of rain in a very short amount of time,” said firefighter Chris Prater. “The ground cannot absorb that much water and you have these flash floods as a result.”

Nearly four inches of rain poured onto Mt. Baldy in just an hour from around 2:45 p.m. The National Weather Service said that kind of weather could only be seen once every five centuries as the mudslides damaged more than 30 homes.

Top photo via Associated Press