Washington landslide death toll rises to 33 as victims are mourned

SEATTLE – A day after the secretary of homeland security and the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency toured the site of the deadly landslide in Washington state, authorities announced Monday that they have found the remains of three more victims, bringing the death toll to 33.

Only three of those killed in the March 22 disaster, which left a square mile of debris spread over the town of Oso, are still unidentified, the Snohomish County medical examiner’s office said in a written statement. Also Monday, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office revised the missing list down to 12 from 13.

Billy L. Spillers, a 30-year-old from Arlington, was identified as the latest slide victim. Like the disaster’s other fatalities, his death was ruled an accident, its cause “multiple blunt force injuries.” Spillers’ daughter Kaylee B. Spillers, 5, was among the first victims identified.

His 2-year-old daughter, Brooke, is still missing. The body of Spillers’ stepson, Jovon E. Mangual, 13, was identified Thursday.

Jeh Johnson, homeland security secretary, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate joined Gov. Jay Inslee in a survey of the landslide damage Sunday afternoon and were briefed on the 17-day recovery effort. President Obama has declared the region a major disaster area.

The mudslide is an enormous tragedy, but the efforts by the first responders is an inspirational American story,” Johnson said in a statement. “The Department of Homeland Security, FEMA and the entire federal government is here to support the governor and his team.

“We were here shortly after the disaster occurred, we are here now,” he said, “and we will continue to be here as the recovery goes on.”

As the recovery effort continues, with hundreds of searchers and support personnel – including 350 soldiers from the National Guard – the hard-hit Stillaguamish Valley continues to memorialize the men, women and children who died in the disaster, one of Washington state’s worst.

Services for Linda McPherson, 69, the former librarian for tiny Darrington, and Summer Raffo, 36, a farrier and school custodian, were held over the weekend. More memorials are in the works.


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