And mudslide makes two

October 01, 2004

Andrew Edwards

In less than one year, a Laguna family has had a truck slam into the

front of their home and a mudslide ooze into the back of their home.

Charles Murray, his wife Alysia, and their 1-year-old son Oliver

were forced to leave their Nyes Place home after a mudslide hit their

backyard on Sept. 23.

"It's a disaster over here," Charles Murray said hours after the


mudslide. "The whole street, both sides, is full of mud."

The Murrays' home has not yet been fully repaired from the

November crash, leaving the family to deal with a second disaster

before fully recovering from the first.

"You just deal with it," Alysia Murray said. "There's always

somebody with something worse going on. You just do what you have to


The mudslide happened at about 2 p.m. when construction workers

excavating a vacant lot near the top of Highland Road ruptured a

high-pressure water main, officials said.

The water main is at the top of a slope that looks over the

Murrays' home. When the pipe broke, the newly-formed mud had a direct

path to the house.

"There was basically a waterfall of mud coming over the back

wall," Alysia Murray said.

The contractor in charge of construction did call the Laguna Beach

County Water District to check for the water main's location before

beginning excavation, district engineer James Nestor said. "It was

very clearly, visibly marked," Nestor said. "Unfortunately, the

contractor found it."

The rupture sent between 7,000 to 10,000 gallons of water down the

slope onto Nyes Place before the pipe was shut down about 15 minutes

after it was broken, Nestor said. Residents did not run out of water,

and the line was repaired Sept. 24.

Police shut down traffic from the 300 block of Nyes Place to

Pacific Coast Highway as workers cleared mud from the street, Sgt.

George Ramos said.

The street was cleared for cars by Friday.

"City staff spent a half day with a crew of four people cleaning

up the beach and street," City Engineer Steve May said.

The contractor in charge of the excavation, identified by May as

Pete Sanchez, did not return phone calls.

After the street was cleaned up, the Murrays had to find a room in

a motel, Charles Murray said. The mud took out a shower the family

had set up in their backyard after their bathroom was destroyed in

November when an out of control cement truck crashed into their home.

None of the Murrays' neighbors had to leave their homes, Charles

Murray said.

The family is still working to figure out a way to fix their home,

and have been writing letters to city officials and the owner of the

property where the slide started.

"We're in a holding pattern," Charles Murray said. "I'm not sure

what's going to happen."

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