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La Conchita Marks Ten-Year Anniversary Of Deadly Landslide

Saturday marks the 10-year anniversary of the deadly landslide in Ventura County that crushed homes and killed 10 people, including three children.

As light rain fell, dozens of residents, friends and family gathered to remember the tragic events on Jan. 10, 2005.

At 1:20 p.m., the moment tons of mud slid down the hillside, a bell rang in remembrance of the victims.

“It just brings back a lot of memories and you miss the people,” La Conchita resident Lorraine Kosztics-Thompson said.

The victims are: Tony Alvis, Vanessa Bryson, Christina Kennedy, John Morgan, Patrick Rodreick, Charly Womack, Michelle Wallet, Hannah Wallet, Raven Wallet and Paloma Wallet.

While some people packed up their belongings and moved out after the landslide, others planted even deeper roots.

“It’s the greatest place I’ve ever lived,” said Mike Bell, chairman of the La Conchita Community Organization.

A decade after the slide, the cliff remains unstable and several destroyed homes untouched.

“No geologist will sign off and say it’s safe to move those homes,” said Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett

“For 10 years, they’ve been trying to hang together and they’ve got more challenges than most other communities,” Bennett said.

Bell said the community is growing, despite all of the challenges.

“In 2005, when we had the landslide there were two teenage children in La Conchita. Our town now has 27 children under the age of 15 in town. That tells me we have a future,” Bell said.

“We have to understand the people who passed away, passed away 10 years ago. We need to recognize that their souls are with us. But we need to look to the future. Every community has to look forward,” Bell said.

The La Conchita Community Organization is now looking to find a way to shore up the south end of the hillside.

The organization estimates it would cost around $17 million do get the job done.

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