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  |  April 10, 2014 at 1:49 PM
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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."

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.

"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.

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.

[Everett Herald]

[Snohomish County Medical Examiner]

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