Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published April 7, 2014 at 9:27 PM | Page modified April 8, 2014 at 11:26 AM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Near disaster site, 2 young families shaken, uncertain

The March 22 mudslide has left many people shaken, including two young families who lived just outside the section of Highway 530 that is now closed because of the disaster.


Seattle Times staff reporter

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >

advertising

OSO, Snohomish County — Two young families who live just outside the section of Highway 530 closed by the March 22 mudslide say the disaster has left them shaken, and uncertain what to do next.

“If it was just me, I’d stay out here forever, but we’ve got three kids to think about,” said Brittney Lein, 26. She and her husband, Jon, knew one of the mudslide’s confirmed victims and two others who are listed as missing.

A “God bless Oso” sign that Lein painted hangs along the family’s driveway, which is just west of where road signs and a law-enforcement vehicle mark the farthest east the public can drive, 14 miles east of Arlington.

Lein said the landslide’s immense debris field is about a mile and a half away.

“We bought this place, so we can’t just leave,” she said. “But if we could sell it. ... We’d have to give it some thought.” The couple’s children are 10, 6 and 1½.

Lein said the house is on an elevated piece of ground considered safe from floods. But she had no idea of its potential vulnerability to landslides until — after last month’s slide — she looked at a U.S. Geological Survey map online. It indicates that several other nearby hills could be prone to slides, she said.

The Leins moved from Arlington to the picturesque area along the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River three years ago. “It was a good deal, and we’re country people,” she said. “We don’t really like the city.”

Next door, Olivia McKernan said she and her husband, Jordan Quillen, moved from Monroe eight months ago for the quiet, and the proximity of the mountains.

“I grew up in Leavenworth, and this reminded me of that. It seemed perfect,” Olivia McKernan said. The couple have a 10-month-old son.

McKernan and her husband rent, and are less tied down than the Leins, but have not decided what they will do. She didn’t know any of the victims personally, but shares the community’s sense of loss.

“I’ve been pretty much inside and haven’t really met many people,” she said.

The two women’s husbands, both electricians, drive together to work in the Bellevue area.

Brittney Lein said her husband had built a cabin for John and Kris Regelbrugge, who lived on Steelhead Drive in the slide area. John Regelbrugge’s body has been recovered; his wife has been listed as missing.

Also missing is Mark Gustafson, whom Lein said lived alone.

Lein said Gustafson and Jon Lein sometimes worked together on cabins and other construction jobs.

In fact, she said, the Leins still have a recorded phone message from Gustafson, in which he called a couple days before the slide to see if Jon Lein knew of any available work.

Although she isn’t sure what relatives Gustafson had, Brittney Lein said she is keeping the recording in case they would like to hear his voice.

The slide “felt like an earthquake,” Brittney Lein said, although her kids, who had been playing in the house, said they did not feel it. The family was evacuated for about four days.

Since returning, she has felt herself flinch from the vibrations whenever heavy trucks pass, often loaded with rocks to build an emergency-access road. “My first thought is: Is it another slide?”

Jack Broom: jbroom@seattletimes.com or 206-464-2222



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Where in the world are Seahawks fans?

Where in the world are Seahawks fans?

Put your marker on The Seattle Times interactive map and share your fan story.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►