Work at Washington State mudslide site shifts from recovery of bodies

Spotters will now work with equipment operators removing debris at Washington State mudslide site to look for last remaining victims.
By Frances Burns  |  April 28, 2014 at 1:51 PM
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EVERETT, Wash., April 28 (UPI) -- With two victims of the Washington State mudslide still missing, work at the scene is shifting from recovery to debris removal, local officials said Monday.

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office said the search will now be "passive." Spotters will be on hand to look for the remains of Steven Hadaway, 53, and Molly Kristine “Kris” Regelbrugge, 44, as heavy equipment operators remove mud and debris from the site.

Both Regelbrugge and Hadaway were on Steelhead Drive, a dead-end street between Route 530 and the Stillaguamish River, when a wall of mud buried a square mile in Oso, a rural hamlet in the city of Arlington. Regelbrugge and her husband bought a home there in 2007, while Hadaway was installing a satellite dish for a woman who was also killed by the slide.

Regelbrugge's husband, John, a Navy officer stationed at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, was was buried last week in Cottonwood Cemetery near Madison, Calif.

The county medical examiner reported last Tuesday that two bodies had been identified as Teresa Harris, 53, and her husband, Stephen, 52. The discovery of their bodies, the last to be found so far, was reported a day earlier.

Tragically, the couple's nephew, Christopher Dombroski, who had taken an emergency leave from the U.S. Army to help in the search, died in an apparent suicide days earlier.

The slide, now believed to have killed 43 people, including Hadaway and Regelbrugge, buried homes and blocked Route 530 and the North Fork of the Stillaguamish.

Re-opening the road is expected to take months. That leaves Darrington, a small town to the east, cut off from its nearest neighbor, Arlington.

On Saturday, Oso held a potluck supper to honor volunteers, including the "Soup Ladies" who prepared more than 6,500 meals for those working on the site. The gathering took place in a tent outside the Oso Community Chapel.

"Tonight we want to offer people hope, a time to come together and a sense that we're moving forward together. No one's alone," the Rev. Gary Ray said.

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