Wildfires Claim Teen as 43rd Victim

The huge California wildfires have claimed the life of yet another young Californian, and another life taken from a family that has already suffered a loss.

Kressa Shepherd, a girl from Mendocino County who was 17 years old, died on Sunday, October 29, 2017. She is the 43rd known person to fall prey to the deadly wildfires that spread across the north of California in the last few weeks, and the 9th to die specifically from the Redwood Valley Fire, which covered 36,523 acres.

Compounding the tragedy, Kress was the second loss to the Shepherd family from these terrible blazes. Her younger brother Kai, who was 14 years old, died from the same fire.

Meanwhile, the siblings' parents, Sara (age 40) and Jon (age 44) remain hospitalized in the UC Davis Medical Center with severe burns. Sara was listed in critical condition on Monday.

The Shepherd family owned 80 acres in the mountain forests, and were caught up in the Redwood Valley Fire, which first appeared shortly before midnight on October 8. With the fire blocking the only way out by car, the family was forced to try to escape on foot.

Kai's body was found near the vehicles. Jon Shepherd, who had burns over 45 percent of his body, was found by emergency workers near West Road. Kressa and Sara, meanwhile, were found by a neighbor, and had burns on 60 percent of their bodies.

Kressa was taken to the Shriners Hospital for Children, where she received multiple surgeries and skin grafts in an attempt to save her life, including having both of her legs amputated below the knee. Nevertheless, she slipped into unconsciousness and was removed from life support when doctors determined that she was brain-dead.

Family describes Kressa as a junior and straight-A student at Ukiah High School, as well as a talented artist.

Mindi Ramos, Kressa and Kai's aunt, wrote on the family's Generosity page that “There was nothing the doctors could do. She is no longer in any pain and is with Kai now. Please continue to pray for strength to get through the loss of this precious soul.”

Kressa's high school guidance counselor, Angelina Gutierrez, also described her as a "quiet leader" whom teachers held up as an example of an excellent worker.

“She had the world in front of her,” she said. “She was really friendly, really approachable, very caring, creative and kind.”


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