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Three Santa Barbara City firefighters recognized for daring rescue during mudslide

Three Santa Santa Barbara City firefighters were honored for a lifesaving rescue during the Jan. 9, 2018, mudslide in Montecito.

Fire Captain Kevin Hokom, Engineer Matt Gritt, and Firefighter Alex Kargbo were on duty searching for survivors on Jan. 9 when they heard sounds coming from a debris pile.

Captain Hokom located the patient’s leg, and rescuers combed through the wreckage. Engineer Gritt lifted up part of a garage wall, as Captain Hokom and Firefighter Kargbo were able to free the young victim.

They loaded her into the rescue basket and carried her about one-quarter mile through knee-to-chest high mud to safety.

Summer Corey, the young woman who was rescued that morning, has made a full recovery. Corey presented her rescuers with the Stephen J. Masto Valor Award on Thursday, October 4, 2018, at Fire Station 1 in Santa Barbara.

According to the fire department: “The Stephen J. Masto Award is awarded to members of the Santa Barbara City Fire Department for acts of courage, bravery and valor that are deemed above and beyond the call of duty. Firefighters have been previously honored with Valor awards. A newly designed Valor medal will be unveiled this year and will be the official Medal of Valor for the Fire Department and future recipients. Stephen Joseph Masto was a Santa Barbara City Firefighter who died while he was working on the Camuesa Fire in the Los Padres National Forest August 27, 1999. His tragic loss is still felt by the fire department to this day.”

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