Search for Little Boy Swept Away Storm Takes Two Lives

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

January 27, 2023

Kyle Doan, 5, who has not been found since swept away in floodwaters on Jan. 9.

The Jan. 8-9 storm that caused widespread destruction from flooding, also claimed the lives of two and possibly a third person.

Search and rescue crews have worked daily since the storm to find a little boy who was swept away in floodwaters in San Miguel.

According to a Jan. 12 news release from Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla, “Sheriff’s search operations continued for missing 5-year-old Kyle Doan who was swept away by raging floodwaters on Jan. 9, 2023 near San Miguel.”

Little Kyle Doan and his mother were trapped by floodwaters from San Marcos Creek, which flows into the Salinas River. She was rescued but he was lost in the swiftly flowing waters. As of Jan. 20, he had yet to be found.

Doan was described as having, “short, dirty-blond hair, hazel eyes, is 4-feet tall, and weighs 52-pounds.” He was last seen “wearing black puffer jacket with a red liner, blue jeans, blue and gray Nike tennis shoes.”

Within days of the storm, an army of people had joined in the search, including Search and Rescue and Dive Teams from SLO County, Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, Sacramento County, Santa Clara County, and Kern County Sheriff’s Offices. 

Members of the California Conservation Corps and community volunteers joined in the desperate search.

There have even been six, K-9 teams, members of the California Rescue Dog Association, three Cal Fire hand crews, CHP air operations, Drone Teams from San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office and Grover Beach Police Department and members of the California Office of Emergency Services. And 120 members of the California National Guard also helped to find the boy.

“In total,” Cipolla said, “approximately 200 personnel are involved in the search.” As of Jan. 20, searching was still ongoing daily.

Photos of the scene from the Sheriff’s Department show searchers wading chest deep in muddy water strewn with debris, feeling along the waterway and looking under every log and rock in a huge swath of devastation.

“The search,” Cipolla said, “is being conducted in extremely challenging conditions with mud and debris hampering the efforts. But this is a comprehensive effort to search every brush pile and area of debris.”

Meanwhile, in another storm-caused death, the Highway Patrol reported that at 12:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, CHP got multiple reports of a vehicle with a female driver being overtaken by floodwaters on Avila Beach Drive, east of San Luis Bay Drive, according to a news release from the CHP in SLO. 

“Roadway closures were previously placed throughout the area,” the CHP said. CHP and emergency responders tried to get to the car but couldn’t. Cal Fire deployed a swift water rescue boat to reach the vehicle,” a Ford Escape.

Rescuers found the woman driver still inside the car but she had already died. In a Jan. 20 news story in The Tribune, she was identified as Karen Buccat, 60 of Avila Beach.

Buccat worked in the family business, Buccat Fish, in Port San Luis and was very involved in the commercial fishing industry in PSL, according to the Tribune story.

And in Morro Bay, a 78-year-old man who had lived on a boat in dry dock on Main Street for many years, was found dead, his boat knocked off its stands presumably by floodwaters.

The man’s name has yet to be released pending notification of his next of kin and no cause of death has been announced.


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