Woman who survived with infant son says she hugged him tightly as mudslide hit

Amanda Skorjanc, who survived Oso, Wash., mudslide, describes lying on the couch in a "little cushioned pocket" waiting for rescue with her baby son.

By Frances Burns
Search and rescue personnel work in the debris field on on March 27, 2014 in Oso, Washington. UPI/Ted Warren/Pool | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/7c54a1e5af1da957c6974e348a9007b9/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Search and rescue personnel work in the debris field on on March 27, 2014 in Oso, Washington. UPI/Ted Warren/Pool | License Photo

SEATTLE, April 10 (UPI) -- A woman who survived the mudslide that buried a square mile in Oso, Wash., says she held her baby son tightly as a wall of mud hit their home.

Amanda Skorjanc, 25, remains in Harborview Medical Center, with multiple broken bones while her son, 23-week-old Duke Suddarth, is in Seattle Children's Hospital. She described her ordeal to reporters Wednesday, saying she knew something was wrong when she heard a loud noise and saw the lights blinking on and off followed by the first debris coming in the front door.


That was when she clutched Duke.

"It got dark around us and it was throwing us all over the place," she said. "It was very, very strong and very violent."

RELATED President Obama to visit Oso as death toll rises in Washington mudslide

A hillside above the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River gave way March 22, burying 37 houses. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner said that as of Thursday, 36 deaths had been confirmed and 32 of the victims identified.

Skorjanc said she and her son were on the couch in "a little cushioned pocket." Her injuries were so severe she found she could not move, and she feared that in the remote area rescue could be hours away.


Then she saw her son was starting to turn blue.

RELATED Search becomes tougher as number of missing in Washington mudslide dwindles

"I thought I was losing him," she said. "I would say, 'Stay with me Bud,' and ask God not to take him in front of me."

Then she heard voices. Six people, using chainsaws, rescued her and Duke.

Ty Suddarth, Skorjanc's partner, was running an errand and got a phone call from his brother, telling him that "everything might be gone." He learned hours later that both Skorjanc and their son had survived, although Duke suffered a fractured skull and was in intensive care for more than a week.

RELATED Dog found alive at Washington landslide site may have been searching for previous owner

The dead identified this week included Billy Spillers and his 2-year-old daughter, Brooke. Spillers was watching his four children while his wife ran an errand, and only one of the children survived.

Skorjanc said she hopes to say thanks in person to the "amazing people" who saved her and others.

"At the same time, I feel guilty that I have my family and some don't," she said.

RELATED Logging may have contributed to deadly Washington landslide

[Everett Herald]

[Snohomish County Medical Examiner]

RELATED Washington governor asks President Obama to declare mudslide 'major disaster'

RELATED Death toll in Washington State mudslide 25; expected to rise sharply

RELATED First Washington mudslide fatality identified

Latest Headlines


Follow Us