Before and after of the slide in Oso, Washington. 17 still missing, 4 dead. #landslide #OsoSlide t.co/CUyyWo7PIq
The state Department of Natural Resources released its review on Tuesday, nine months after the deadliest landslide in U.S. history killed 43 people and devastated a community about 60 miles northeast of Seattle. In the aftermath of the disaster, questions were raised about logging in a 7-acre area at the top of the slope nearly a decade earlier.
"They would have been starting school this fall, and it's really, really difficult," said the boys' grandmother, Karen Psonka. The disaster claimed the life of the boys' mother, Katie Ruthven, her husband Shane, and Shane's parents. "The strength and the courage. It's the things that we teach the kids that come here."
"We have to, at some point, expect the worst," a county official says. The remains of the massive landslide are seen on Monday, March 24. The family's home was flooded after the landslide blocked the Stillaguamish River. The first Washington State Patrol trooper arrives on the scene on March 22, according to the patrol's Twitter feed.
Sanoah Violet Huestis was with her grandmother, Christina Jefferds, on Saturday when the mudslide hit this community of several dozen homes on Steelhead Drive. At the site of the slide, the 600-foot hill that once towered over the street has turned what was once a country lane of homes, cabins and barns into a disaster zone of grey and brown mud. Despite the wreckage and destruction, the air that blows across the site is fresh and cold, with the smell of the river and rain in it.
Hundreds of rescue workers spent a sixth day searching the aftermath of the landslide in Washington state, navigating treacherous conditions as officials clung to fading hopes that there may be survivors left in the carnage. The slide area spans a square mile, with the debris field itself posing significant challenges to the workers trying to locate bodies.
Dale Petersen said Thursday he and other family members "were told that it was her." Petersen is the great uncle of Sanoah Huestis, who was with her grandmother when last Saturday's mudslide hit. The girl's grandmother, 45-year-old Christina A. Jefferds of Arlington, Wash., died in the slide. The mudslide hit the small town of Oso about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.
The couple slept in on the morning of the landslide, his father said. That passion for the outdoors and the beauty of the mountains drew his son and his wife to Darrington. A 2012 tweet from the Navy said that at the time, he had three sons in the service: Brian Regelbrugge was a cryptologic technician 2nd Class in the Navy; Kyle Regelbrugge was a Navy machinist's mate fireman; and Scott Regelbrugge was an Army corporal. "He loved the Navy," John Regelbrugge II said.
The confirmed number of dead stands at 16 with at least eight more bodies believed located after the monster mudslide crashed onto the town of Oso. Some say recent rain increased the risk of a slide on the saturated hillside, while The Seattle Times said long-term logging allowed on the plateau above may have made the area more unstable.
Houses "look like they've been put in a blender," fire commander says. A boot is among the debris from the mudslide on March 25. A search and rescue team carries the body of a victim on March 24. An intact house sits at the edge of the landslide on March 24. The family's home was flooded after the landslide blocked the Stillaguamish River.
Despite the grim discoveries in the state of Washington as the search yesterday entered its fifth day, and the likelihood that more bodies will be found, officials were still hoping to find survivors. That brings the likely death toll to 24, though authorities are keeping the official toll at 16 until the eight other bodies are recovered.