Ellen Meets A Hero Who Saved A Family And A Young Child From The Montecito Mudslides

"There's such a series of incalculable odds that we got to the point where that baby was."

In the middle of the night, Augie Johnson woke up in his California home, put on his work boots, and went outside. From there, he could see the mudslides heading straight for his house.

That night, Johnson helped firefighters and first responders rescue a toddler during the mudslides in Montecito, Calif. Now, he's meeting with Ellen DeGeneres on an episode of The Ellen Show to talk about how it all unfolded. 

Johnson begins by explaining that where he lived, it was only suggested that his family voluntarily evacuate, it was not mandatory. Johnson decided he would stay in his home that night, and his wife and daughter thought about heading to a hotel. Later on, Johnson went to bed, thinking that if anything were to happen, he would have enough time to evacuate.


"For some reason, I woke up ... and I did something I've never done before. I put on heavy work boots. It was the middle of the night, and I decided I would go outside. I don't know why I did that either. I started kicking some dirt out of a drain ... all of a sudden, the electricity went out and a bright orange flare [of a gas pipe] went up in the corner ... and I looked out at the creek and it was dry ... and I just happened to look up, and in the orange glare, it looked like the whole mountain was moving ... these trees started to drop, one after another, and I realized that the whole mountain was coming down." 

Johnson then ran back into the house and grabbed the family's dog by the collar. He tried to escape out of the front of the house, but the entire house caved in from behind as mud, boulders, other cars, and trees slid into the property. Then, Johnson noticed his wife and daughter had never evacuated, and were still sleeping upstairs in his late son's room.

Luckily, the family was able to hang onto their chimney until help arrived. When the fire department got there, Johnson directed people to the neighbor's house where he thought people may need assistance. There, they discovered a 2-year-old boy, who had slid from his own home half a mile upstream. DeGeneres then notes that four members of the boy's family passed in the mudslides; he and his father survived.

But the story doesn't stop there: Johnson then explains that he believes his late son, Nick, who passed away three years ago, helped guide him through that night. 

"There's such a series of incalculable odds that we got to the point where that baby was," Johnson says. "We should've evacuated, we didn't. I would never wear work boots and wake up in the middle of the night. Our room was carved off like an ice cream scoop. It's not there anymore. So if I hadn't woken up, I wouldn't be here today." Johnson also reiterates that his wife and daughter went to sleep in Nick's room that night — something they never do. That was one of the only places in their house that night that went undamaged. 

"I was compelled to be there for that moment." 

Afterward, DeGeneres points out that Johnson has started a GoFundMe page for the 2-year-old boy he rescued and his family. "I just feel that that boy is special. I'd love to see him go to college," Johnson says. "The father lost his whole family, but he has his son." 

Finally, DeGeneres announces that Walmart will be donating $50,000 toward the people and animals of Montecito in Johnson's name. 

And if that's not a real-life hero story, we don't know what is. 

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