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Josephine Gower, 69
Around 3 a.m. Tuesday, Gower woke up to the sound of rain thundering on the roof of her home on East Valley Road. She walked downstairs, where her boyfriend had been keeping an eye on the storm.
Together, they opened the front door and looked outside. A wall of mud, debris and boulders as big as pickup trucks suddenly struck the house, sweeping the couple out the front door.
Gower clung to the door frame. Her boyfriend reached for her hand. Neither could hold on.
He was thrown against a fence and pinned there, buried in mud up to his neck. She was swept away.
“He was in the mud calling her name for hours,” said Alastair Haigh, 37, Gower’s son-in-law.
Gower, who went by Josie, was born in Santa Barbara and had lived in Montecito for more than 20 years. She was a familiar sight, zipping around in her red Mazda Miata convertible, and knew almost everyone in town — especially the other longtime residents who had embraced the area’s laid-back lifestyle, Haigh said.