I grew up in Montecito, attending Mt. Carmel School as well as Bishop Diego. I moved away after college, yet continued to visit my parents and sister and remain lifelong friends with many who reside there.
In the early morning of January 9, my 15-year-old nephew called and very calmly stated that my parents, Theresa and Roy Rohter, were in their home when they were struck by a mudslide. My mother was swept away by the mudslide, he said, but had survived and was at a neighbor’s house. My father was currently unaccounted for.
My brother-in-law Jay Krautmann, who is a real estate agent with Village Properties, called to say he and Brian Brunello, a dear friend, had hiked to the property and were trying to reach my mother and search for my father.
I consider Brian my little brother; we’ve known each other since the 5th grade, and he now is co-owner of the Liquor and Wine Grotto. Calling frequently to keep me informed of what was going on, he was with my mother even before the first responders could reach the scene. He and Jay were clearing boulders for the ambulance to reach the home. I credit them with rescuing my mother from the cold, wet, mud that had enveloped the area.
I will forever remember with gratitude Brian and Jay’s actions in the pitch black of that very early morning. It was Brian who said the words no one wants to hear, my father had been found and did not survive, yet they could not have come from a more comforting source.
When I got to Santa Barbara the next day, I found a car, a home, and shoulders to cry on from Brian, his brother Mark, and their mother, my second mom.
I write these words to show the spirit and loyalty of family and the undying friendship and bonds that comes with many years. Without this sense of community that surrounds Montecito, I do not know what I would have done. Brian and Jay hesitated when I announced I was writing this letter — unselfish when giving their time and energy, hesitant to note the losses to their own businesses during the emergency closures.
They, as well as all of the first responders and others who helped the victims so unselfishly, need the support of this community as well as the recognition for supporting us during our time of need.