Who they were: Washington landslide deaths

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office identified all 42 bodies recovered from the site of the March 22 landslide near Oso, Wash. In connection to the landslide, the county listed one person as still missing. The active search in the debris was suspended on April 28.

Christina Jefferds, 45

Christina A. Jefferds, 45, was caring for her baby granddaughter when the slide stuck. Rescuers, on separate days, eventually found their bodies in spots 10 feet apart.

Natasha Huestis, Jefferds’ daughter and Sanoah Huestis’ mother, described her mother for The Times: “My mom was super-sweet, and so incredibly kind and gentle-hearted. She just wanted love; she wanted happiness. She had an adventurous side, and some things she tried before she passed away were skydiving, indoor skydiving and flying trapeze.”

Jefferds worked as the office manager at Northwest Smile Design, a dental office in Marysville, Wash.

Kelly Peterson, the dentist who worked with her, said Jefferds was the first person she hired after graduating from dental school nearly 22 years ago. She remembered Jefferds for her humble, generous and honest personality.

“In a time when promises are so easily set aside, her desire to be strictly honest in her dealings with her fellow man was obvious and refreshing,” Peterson wrote in a statement. “I always knew that my teammates, my clients, and I could trust Chris.”

Jefferds died of accidental blunt-force impact, the medical examiner’s office said.

Sanoah Huestis, 4 months

Rescuers found the remains of Sanoah’s grandmother — and Natasha Huestis’ mother — Christina Jefferds about 10 feet away from the infant’s remains.

They were together until the end, and for that, Huestis is grateful.

“It’s an absolute relief,” Huestis, 26, told the Los Angeles Times in a phone interview after she got news that her daughter’s body had been found. “Now we can move on to the next part.”

For almost a week, Huestis and her stepfather, Seth Jefferds, had already been in mourning and wondered whether rescuers would ever find the pair. They all lived together along the Stillaguamish River; Huestis and her stepdad had gone to town and left baby Sanoah with Christina Jefferds.

That’s when the mudslide hit. Huestis said she got word from her stepfather when Sanoah’s remains were found, along with some of their personal belongings — but that there was nothing left of their home.

“It was like somebody put a stick of dynamite in there,” said Huestis, a single mom.

Rather than tearful, Huestis was composed when she spoke with The Times, and said she was thankful for everyone’s thoughts.

“Don’t get me wrong; it’s a really sad, tragic event — but I’m so happy that my mom and my daughter have each other, and they’re in a good place,” Huestis said. She added of Sanoah, “I got to hold her, and all I could do is smile, because I was so happy to have her and to hold her.”

“She was a happy baby. She loved to smile, and she was so loved by everyone around her,” Huestis said. “We got approached by several strangers — they always said how beautiful she was. Before she passed, she was about to laugh — she was just getting so close.”

Stephen Neal, 55

Stephen A. Neal, a plumber from Darrington, was servicing a hot-water tank for a woman who had just moved to Oso.

His daughter, Caroline Neal, was among those in Arlington the day after the mudslide who had been hoping to hear good news about their loved ones.

He thinks fast on his feet,” she told The Times as she clutched photos of her father. “If he had any warning, he would have done everything he could to stay safe.”

Neal died of accidental blunt-force impact, the medical examiner’s office said.

Bill Welsh, 66

William E. Welsh served in the Vietnam War and worked as an electrician in Arlington.

Three days after the landslide, his niece Tammy Oommen was still holding out hope for his survival.

He’s funny, very loving, really helpful, always has a story to tell,” Oommen told The Times. “He likes to debate. Him and my kids and some of the other nieces and nephews like to debate politics.”

Oommen’s favorite memory of her uncle, she said, “is his voice.”

He always calls me, ‘Hey, girl!’ We like to laugh. He always makes me feel like family.”

Welsh’s nephew Marc Oommen wrote of his uncle on Twitter: “Great person, and great Democrat. Thank you to everyone helping out.”

Welsh died of accidental blunt-force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said.

Linda McPherson, 69

Linda L. McPherson, an Arlington resident, spent most of her life along the Stillaguamish River. Even though her husband of nearly 50 years warned her that the region was prone to mudslides, there was no other place she’d rather be.

If she had to die, I’m glad she died there,” her daughter, Kate McPherson, told the Los Angeles Times.

The day of the landslide, Linda and Gary “Mac” McPherson were reading the newspaper in their longtime home on State Route 530, about an hour north of Seattle. Mac McPherson heard a roar. Looking up, he saw the trees twist.

Then he blacked out. When he woke up, his house had been pushed 150 yards across a deep gully, landing where a barn used to be.

He woke up and he was sitting in an old, heavy wood chair,” Kate McPherson, a 38-year-old special education teacher, said of her father. “It crushed in around him. That protected him. He grabbed a stick from the chair and started digging.”

Mac McPherson, 81, went into seclusion with family members in the days following the landslide.

Linda McPherson died of accidental blunt-force impact, the medical examiner’s office said. She had worked for years as a librarian for several years and served on the Darrington School Board for nearly 19 years, including a period as board president.

Kaylee Spillers, 5

Kaylee B. Spillers lived with her mother, father and three siblings in Arlington.

She was very active in her classes, said her mother’s ex-husband, Jose Mangual. His son, Kaylee’s half brother, was among those missing in the landslide. Mangual quickly left Colorado Springs, Colo., for Arlington after hearing about the disaster to comfort his extended family.

They were always together — always going to her school events,” Mangual said of the Spillers family.

Shane Ruthven, 41

Shane M. Ruthven grew up in Spokane, Wash., but moved to Steelhead Drive, where he lived with his wife, Katie.

The Spokesman-Review reported that the couple ran a glass-repair business and lived with their two sons, Hunter, 6, and Wyatt, 4.

Ruthven’s in-laws, Judee and Lou Vanderburg, also stayed at the home.

Ruthven died of accidental blunt force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said.

Lewis Vandenburg, 71

Lewis F. Vandenburg, of Arlington, retired from the U.S. Marines and Washington’s Department of Corrections in Spokane, the Seattle Times reported. He was Shane Rutheven’s stepfather.

He died of accidental blunt-force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said.

Summer Raffo, 36

Summer R. Raffo, punctual to the core, was heading down State Route 530, passing through Oso on the way to one of her three jobs. She had an appointment to shoe horses in nearby Arlington, and she would not be late. Her anvil was stowed in her blue Subaru.

Five days later, Dayn Brunner dug his sister’s body out of the Subaru.

The Tulalip tribal policeman — a community volunteer, not an official responder — had been kicked off the pile after dark the day the mountain came sliding down. He was threatened with arrest if he did not leave.

Brunner came back Sunday and Monday and Tuesday.

I knew that even if she was in a car, there was no way she would have survived it,” said Brunner, 42. Rescuers were finding vehicles crushed to “the size of a washing machine. I knew then it was not going to be a rescue.”

Brunner got word about 1 p.m. Wednesday that his sister had been found. He was searching the rubble, aided by his 16-year-old son, Riley. A team had found Raffo’s car a little to the west. The Subaru’s roof had been ripped off by the slide’s force. The trunk lid was gone. The passenger side was caved in a foot and a half. Raffo’s hands were still on the steering wheel. The rescuers dug and dug.

When it got down to the point where we could pull her out, I wrapped my arms around her upper torso, and two other guys got her legs, and we pulled her out,” Brunner said. “We laid her out on a tarp. She looked really peaceful.”

The Arlington resident died of accidental blunt-force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said.

Joseph Miller, 47

Joseph R. Miller stayed on Steelhead Drive with his father, and the two would often go fishing together, the Seattle Times reported.

His father had been grocery shopping during the landslide. The father recalled that Joseph, who suffered from mental illness, also enjoyed taking photos of nature and running.

Miller served as a medic in the military, according to his funeral home. He had planned to move to Darrington soon.

He died of accidental blunt-force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said.

John Regelbrugge III, 49

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Leon J. Regelbrugge III oversaw a detachment based in Everett.

His wife, who is still missing, is believed to have died alongside him. They had been married for 17 years and had three sons, according to media reports.

He died of accidental blunt-force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said.


Alan Bejvl, 21

Alan M. Bejvl became engaged to Delaney Webb last October, and they had planned to marry at her grandparents’ home on Steelhead Drive in August, the Everett Herald reported.

All four were lost in the landslide.

Bejvl’s mom told the newspaper that Alan was raised without access to television or electronics, making him a jeans-and-white-T-shirt “country” boy at heart. He had been working at a trucking company.

He died of accidental blunt-force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said.

Julie Farnes, 59

Julie A. Farnes, a retired UPS driver, moved with her husband to Arlington after many years in Alaska, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Her husband, Jerry, wasn’t home during the landslide.

She died of accidental blunt-force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said.

Hunter Ruthven, 6

Hunter Ruthven was one of two sons of Shane and Katie Ruthven, who lived together in the neighborhood demolished by the landslide debris. He died of accidental blunt-force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said.

Hunter’s brother, 4-year-old Wyatt, has not been found.

Shelley Bellomo, 55

Shelley L. Bellomo would usually greet friends and neighbors with hugs, they recalled. Born in San Francisco, Bellomo moved around the country, according to an obituary. She eventually settled with her partner, Peter Logan, who also died in the landslide.

Bellomo died of accidental blunt-force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said.

Amanda Lennick, 31

Amanda B. Lennick hadn’t even finished moving into her new home on Steelhead Drive.

Three contractors were working on her new home, which she purchased through a foreclosure proceeding, when the landslide reached the property, according to KING-TV. The contractors were also lost in the landslide.

The nurse at Providence Medical Center died of accidental blunt-force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said.

Judee Vandenburg, 64

Judee S. Vandenburg, of Arlington, moved with her husband Lou up to Arlington to be closer to her grandchildren. They moved in next door to the Ruthvens’.

Vandenburg was a fan of cooking and country music, according to her Facebook profile.

She died of accidental blunt-force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said.

Jerry Logan, 63

Gerald E. Logan lived with Shelley Bellomo on Steelhead Drive, and they both died of accidental blunt-force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said.

Brandy Ward, 58

Brandy L. Ward, a retired nurse, was the wife of Oso Fire Commissioner Tim Ward. He was hospitalized for injuries to his pelvis suffered in the landslide while she died of accidental blunt-force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said.

The outdoors-loving couple lived on Steelhead Drive. Their neighbors told reporters that the Brandy Ward would make jellies for them.

Thom Satterlee, 65

Thom E. Satterlee, who lived on Steelhead Drive, was a well-known political activist in the region. He had wanted part of Snohomish County to secede and become Freedom County.

The Vietnam War veteran belonged to a band of anti-government protestors who called themselves Patriots, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. At one time, he was monitored by the FBI, the center said.

Satterlee died of accidental blunt-force impacts, the medical examiner’s office said. Also killed were his wife Marcy, his granddaughter Delaney Webb and her finance Alan Bejvl.

Lon Slauson, 60

Lon E. Slauson, who lived on Steelhead Drive, lost his frontyard and some outbuildings when a landslide struck the same area in 2006, according to the Seattle Times. This time around, the hillside fell with far more force. He died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Adam Farnes, 23

Adam Farnes was rescued and transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle within a couple of hours of the landslide. But he was declared dead on arrival because of blunt-force injuries to his head and torso, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office said.

He had worked as a police dispatcher in Alaska before moving with his parents to Arlington, according to the Anchorage Daily News. His mother also died in the landslide; his father wasn’t home at the time.

Thomas Durnell, 65

Thomas P. Durnell had moved to the neighborhood destroyed by the landslide within the last year. His wife of more than three years, Debbie Durnell, was not at home.

He had grown up in Eugene, Ore., according to the Register-Guard. A long-time carpenter, Durnell constructed stages for theater shows.

He died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Delaney Webb, 19

Delaney M. Webb was with her fiance at her grandparents’ house, the Satterlees’, when the landslide struck.

She had been planning to wed Alan Bejvl on the riverside property. The couple had met at Darrington High and dreamed of having a log cabin nearby, according to the Seattle Times.

The morning of the landslide, Bejvl had written to Webb on Facebook, “I love you(:,” alongside a picture that said the 10 things he needed to be happy are all “you.”

Webb replied, “Awe(:”

She died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Katie Ruthven, 34

Katie F. Ruthven owned a glass-repair business with her husband, Shane.

The life-long Washingtonian graduated from the University of Washington in 2001, according to her Facebook page. She was a fan of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.

She died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Jovon Mangual, 13

Jovon E. Mangual, referred to by his family as JoJo, lived with his mother, Jonielle Spillers. He had been watching television with his stepdad and sisters when the landslide arrived, according to the family.

His father, Army Staff Sgt. Jose Mangual, remained in Colorado. Jose came to Oso hoping to hear that his son had survived, describing the boy as a good brother to his sister and sports enthusiast.

He died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Gloria Halstead, 67

Gloria J. Halstead, of Arlington, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Jerry Halstead, 75

Jerry L. Halstead, of Arlington, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Marcy Satterlee, 61

Mary M. Satterlee devoted much of her time to her garden of vegetables and flowers, her sister-in-law told the Seattle Times.

Known as Marcy, she lived with her husband Thom. The Satterlees’ were planning the wedding of their granddaughter, and both couples were killed in the landslide. The wedding was to be held at the home.

She died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Billy Spillers, 30

Billy L. Spillers, of Arlington, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Brooke Spillers, 2

Brooke Spillers, of Arlington, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Larry Miller, 30

Larry Jay Miller, of Everett, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Michael Pearson, 74

Michael W. Pearson, of Darrington, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Bonnie Gullikson, 91

Bonnie J. Gullikson, of Arlington, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Mark Gustafson, 55

Mark J. Gustafson, of Arlington, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Denver M. Harris, 14

Denver M. Harris, of Arlington, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Ronald Dequilettes, 52

Ronald P. Dequilettes, of Arlington, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Sandra Miller, 64

Sandra K. Miller, of Everett, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Wyatt Ruthven, 4

Wyatt M. Ruthven, of Arlington, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Stephen Harris, 52

Stephen D. Harris, of Arlington, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Teresa Harris, 53

Teresa C. Harris, of Arlington, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

Steven Hadaway, 53

Steven N. Hadaway, of Darrington, died of accidental blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner’s office said. Hadaway, who worked for DISH Network, was in the area installing satellite television service for a woman new to the community. The woman, Amanda Lennick, also died.

Kris Regelbrugge, 44

Molly Kristine Regelbrugge, of Arlington, was listed as missing in connection to the landslide.

Credits: Los Angeles Times reporting