Mudslide Survivor Recounts Harrowing Tale as Death Toll Rises Again

4/11/2014 11:35:26 AM

Washington state officials now say at least 36 people are confirmed dead after a huge mudslide tore through the quiet community of Oso, Wash., last month.

Four of the bodies recovered from the rubble have not been positively identified, officials said. Ten people, including two children, remain missing (Dan Whitcomb, Reuters, April 9).

Amanda Skorjanc, one of the few people rescue workers found alive after the mudslide, said she was watching videos with her infant son at home when the lights started to flicker and shake. When she looked outside, she saw the mudslide coming and her neighbors' houses "exploding" from the force.

Aerial photo of the mudslide and backup of Stillaguamish River. (Credit: Flickr/Jay Inslee)

Grabbing her baby and turning away from the mud, "I held onto that baby like it was the only purpose that I had," Skorjanc said. "I did not let that baby go for one second."

Skorjanc, 25, remains hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where she has had six surgeries to repair broken bones. Her child's father, Ty Suddarth, had gone out to run errands shortly before the hillside collapsed. Skorjanc's son, Duke Suddarth, is being treated at Seattle Children's Hospital for serious injuries, including a skull fracture.

After the slide stopped, Skorjanc said, "I started to hear sirens -- the most amazing sound I ever heard" (AP/Colorado Springs Gazette, April 9).

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500.

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