Ava and Gage thankful to be safe after a night spent stuck in their vehicle in ankle-deep mud. Credit: Ray Ford / Noozhawk Photo

The last thing that either Ava or Gage ever thought they would be doing on a stormy night was spending it stuck in the mud in the middle of flowing water with no idea how bad things could get.

“I guess I got a little cocky,” Gage admitted. 

A vehicle stuck in the mud on Jameson Road in Montecito. Credit: Ray Ford / Noozhawk photo

The couple from the L.A. area were on their way up to Santa Barbara to help a friend whose house was being threatened by flooding.

But just as they passed Summerland and crested Ortega Hill, they discovered the freeway had been closed. As they coasted down the Sheffield exit they had no idea what to do.

It was nearing midnight, they were totally unfamiliar with the area and given the rain couldn’t see more than a few car lengths ahead of them.

The couple, who asked that only their first names be used, decided to do what a number of others had done — follow the cars ahead of them along North Jameson Lane and see if that would work. 

For several hundred yards, all seemed good. 

Worker assess damage from flooding when Romero Creek overflows its banks causing Hy. to be closed. Stuck car on the other side of the fencing. Credit: Ray Ford / Noozhawk Photo

What they and others ahead of them didn’t realize was that hours of heavy rain had swollen San Ysidro Creek to the point where it was overflowing its banks, turning nearby streets into fast moving rivers of water, and North Jameson Road into a mud pit.

Ahead of them as the vehicles began to slow down they encountered the gooey mess, and Gage decided to forge ahead when he sees that several others have made it through. 

But one by one, as a number of other get stuck, the reality sinks in when the mud becomes too thick to push through. A walk around their car confirms the worst.

There’re here for the night. 

Tuesday morning, thanks to the help of a stranger, Ava and Gage got a tow out of the mess and onto firm ground near Hixon Road.

Their car is a mess, one tire has lost its bead, and it appears they may need a new one.

But along with their dog, Max, they are safe and sound.

There to greet them was their friend, with the tables turned. He came to help them out.

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This story has been edited to reflect that it was San Ysidro Creek and not Romero that was overflowing its banks.

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Ray Ford, Noozhawk Outdoors Writer | @riveray

Noozhawk outdoor writer Ray Ford can be reached at rford@noozhawk.com. Click here for his website, SBoutdoors.com. Follow him on Twitter: @riveray. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook. The opinions expressed are his own.