Sheriff Announces End to Search & Recovery
Nearly six weeks after the deadly Oso Mudslide, authorities have made the difficult decision to stop further search and recovery efforts at the site of the March 22nd tragedy.
In an April 29th press release, Sheriff Ty Trenary announced the decision, expressing how difficult it was, with consideration for the families of the two remaining missing victims, Steven N. Hadaway, 53, and Molly K. (Kris) Regelbrugge, 44, both of Arlington. “I know that Kris and Steve’s families are both looking for closure,” said Trenary.
The Sheriff’s Office and other agencies will continue to be involved in coordinating small-scale search efforts based on evidence and weather. The current weather pattern has continued to cause problems on the east side of the slide.
Rescuers saved 11 people on the day of the slide and the Medical Examiner’s Office has been able to identify 41 individuals who died in the slide. There have been no additional recoveries since April 22nd. To date, the Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the following victims:
Beivl, Alan M.
Bellomo, Shelley L.
Dequilettes, Ronald P.
Durnell, Thomas P.
Farnes, Adam M.
Farnes, Julie A.
Gulliksen, Bonnie J.
Gustafson, Mark J.
Halstead, Gloria J.
Halstead, Jerry L.
Harris, Denver M.
Jefferds, Christina A.
Lennick, Amanda B.
Logan, Gerald E.
Mangual, Jovon E.
McPherson, Linda L.
Miller, Joseph R.
Miller, Larry J.
Miller, Sandra K.
Neal, Stephen A.
Pearson, Michael W.
Raffro, Summer R.
Regelbrugge III, Leon J.
Ruthven, Katie F.
Ruthven, Shane M.
Ruthven, Wyatt M.
Satterlee, Mary M.
Satterlee, Thom E.
Slauson, Lon E.
Spillers, Billy L.
Spillers, Kaylee B.
Vandenburg, Judee S.
Vandenburg, Lewis F.
Ward, Brandy L.
Webb, Delaney M.
Welsh, William E.
Hadaway, Steven N.
Regelbrugge, Molly K.
Thoughts and prayers from the community continue.
Trenary continued, saying, “I would like to take a moment to thank all of the volunteers from our communities who worked so hard to help recover victims. We were very fortunate to have specialized teams from across the nation who aided in the search efforts. Specifically, I would like to recognize Washington Task Force 1 and Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor for their help. Task Force 1 provided the technical expertise that aided in finding many of the missing.”
“We are still concerned about safety within the slide area. The area is still dangerous and unpredictable. I believe that it is very important to be respectful of the loss of life and private property that was involved in this horrific event. We will continue to work with the Washington State Patrol and other agencies to provide some measure of security in this area.”
County Executive John Lovick and others spoke about environmental issues in the slide area and the County’s long-term efforts to support the Darrington, Oso and Arlington communities.
As debris removal begins, passive search operations will continue. Spotters in the field will work alongside heavy equipment operators to identify personal property that might still be in the slide material. Active search could resume if conditions change, allowing access to areas that were previously inaccessible.
In Other Hwy 530 Slide News:
Washington Employment Security Office announced that workers and self-employed individuals who lost jobs or whose work hours were substantially cut because of the State Route 530 landslide have just one more week to apply for disaster unemployment assistance. Applications must be submitted to the Washington state Employment Security Department by 5 p.m. on May 5.
Benefits are payable for work lost the week of March 23, 2014, or later. Qualified applicants will be eligible to receive assistance of $194 to $624 per week.
Disaster unemployment assistance is only for people who don’t qualify for regular unemployment benefits. Also, the lack of work or reduced work hours must directly result from the landslide.
To apply, Employment Security has activated a special SR-530 disaster phone line for claims: 855-636-5610, option 1.
Examples of potentially eligible applicants include:
- Self-employed individuals and business owners who can’t operate their business;
- Workers whose worksite was damaged or destroyed, or is inaccessible because a road or the business is closed;
- Employees of a business that received most of its revenue from another entity that was damaged or destroyed in the disaster;
- People who were prevented from beginning a new job;
- Workers who can’t work due to an injury suffered in the disaster;
- People who became the head of their households because of a death caused by the disaster;
- Workers who didn’t have enough base-year hours to qualify for regular benefits.
More information is available online. Employment Security has created a special Snohomish Co. disaster response Web page with additional information for people affected by the landslide disaster.
The Employment Security Department administers the federal disaster-benefits program for the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration, on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Relief for Commuters:
Commuters traveling to and from Darrington are finally feeling relief after five weeks of landslide detours that added hours to their trips and hundreds of miles to their odometers.
Just after midnight Tuesday morning, April 29, pilot vehicles began escorting local drivers through a single-lane gravel road known as the Seattle City Light Access Road to bypass the section of State Route 530 still blocked by the landslide.
The Washington State Department of Transportation secured agreements with underlying property owners and Seattle City Light to ensure the route’s availability for use as a local emergency bypass for residents cut off by the SR 530 slide.
“From the very beginning, Seattle City Light has worked with emergency responders to assist however it could,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “This agreement continues that support for community recovery efforts by providing a vital transportation link so residents can get to work and school and businesses can make deliveries.”
WSDOT needs help from drivers to keep local traffic moving. Trips through the local access road are averaging between 15 and 20 minutes. But those times could increase if non-local traffic begins using the route for recreational trips.
“Everyone needs to do their part to keep this critical lifeline open to the local community during the reconstruction of SR 530,” said Linea Laird, WSDOT chief engineer. “The temporary bypass will not carry high volumes, and that is why we are asking drivers who don’t have local community ties or local business interests to use SR 20 to detour around the slide zone.”