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July 28, 2021

Love Creek memorial remembers victims

In a grove of redwood and big leaf maples along Love Creek Road, there is a heart-wrenching memorial sign posted more than 34 years ago by a grandmother in remembrance of her two young grandsons.
“Somewhere in this area lie my two grandsons, Trevor, 7 & Kelly, 5. Please do not dump any trash. Grandma Olsen.”
The two brothers, Trevor and Kelly McCluskey, along with their parents, John and Lynda McCluskey, lost their lives in the landslide 34 years ago when a rain-saturated mountainside fell on their home. The bodies of the parents were recovered, but the brothers’ bodies were not found and remain on the site.
The Jan. 3-4, 1982 rainstorm in northern Santa CruzCounty caused the deaths of 22 people; 10 at Love Creek. The scope of the damage was so great that by the end of the second day, county emergency center dispatchers had answered 3,500 calls for help.
The memorial is a good-sized red toy box filled with toys the boys would have enjoyed. The hand-lettered memorial by their grandmother is attached to the back of the toy box.
In early 2010, Mike Athan and his neighbors along Love Creek cleared the area of poison oak, brush and saplings, repainted the toy box bright red, and erected an eight-foot redwood cross.  They arranged cut tree stumps in a semi-circle bordering the parking area to form a quiet, peaceful place for reflection.
In the six years since, trees have grown, but the area has been kept clear of undergrowth. There is no litter, only the fresh toys that have appeared on each tree stump in memory of the two brothers. It is a sad but fitting memorial to the two boys for whom time stood still in 1982.
HOW TO GET THERE: Love Creek Road angles to the right off northbound Highway 9 in Ben Lomond just north of the traffic signal, before the fire station. The memorial is about one mile down the road, on your left.

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