More than two weeks after tsunamis devastated parts of Southeast Asia, five days of torrential rain in Southern California has created natural disasters closer to home. On Monday, Jan. 10, at approximately 1:15 p.m., a river of mud and debris caused by the rains descended on a neighborhood of La Conchita, Calif., and claimed the lives of 10 people, injuring 14 and leaving as many as 20 others unaccounted for, according to the Ventura County Star.
The geography of La Conchita leaves it particularly vulnerable to a landslide because it is wedged between the mountains and Highway 101. Monday’s landslide was not the first to occur in the area. On March 4, 1995, a similar slide buried nine homes. Miraculously, no one was injured. In response, Ventura County erected an 18-foot retaining wall, which seemed to have no effect on Monday’s more massive slide.
One of the 10 confirmed killed by the landslide was Charly Womack, 57, a noted local surfer, artist, and father of four. According to Bonzer co-creator and renowned shaper Duncan Campbell, Charly was not only a close friend but a member of the Bonzer family and one who helped influence local surfing and design. When asked for comment, the Campbell family offered this statement:
“He was one of the first surfers on the planet to ride a Bonzer. He was there in the garage in 1970 when Malcolm and I started the very first 3fin. He was there in 1975 to introduce me to Jacqie, my wife of 28 years. He was there in 1983 when we put the first 5fins on a Bonzer. It was his board. Charly was there at Cafe Haleiwa on the North Shore when we needed to remodel after the hurricanes in 1982 and 1991. He was there to pull me off a 100-ft. rock face in Ojai, CA, when my footing gave way. The fact is, Charly was there for everyone and anybody who needed help or inspiration. He was a truly selfless individual.
To say he was a great person would be a huge understatement. As Native American Indians would say, he was a ‘human being.’ In fact, he was in his Tepee when they found him.
Charly was a family man. His children, Cori, Orion, Isiah, and Tessa, were not only his kids, but his best friends as well. They loved him dearly. His brother Tom, sister Audrey and his father John, all were very close and constant in his life. But Charly didn’t stop there. He didn’t simply think ‘we are all family.’ He lived it. Jimmie Wallet’s wife, Michelle and daughters Hanna, Raven, and Paloma, were in the house they shared with the Womack family when the mountain came down. Jimmie and his daughter, Jasmine survived the slide. Charly was always there for us in this life, and he will be waiting for us in our next.” – The Campbell Family