Death toll from Alaska landslide hits 5 as authorities recover another body; 1 person still missing

Dec 1, 2023, 10:32 AM

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Authorities have recovered the body of one of two people who had been missing following a deadly landslide last week in the southeast Alaska community of Wrangell.

The body of Otto Florschutz, 65, was found late Thursday afternoon and recovered from the debris, Alaska State Troopers said in a statement Friday. One person, 12-year-old Derek Heller, remained missing following the late night Nov. 20 landslide that came down into the path of three homes, one of which was unoccupied.

Five people have been confirmed killed in the landslide: Florschutz; Timothy and Beth Heller and two of their children, Kara, 11, and Mara, 16.

Florschutz’s wife, Christina Florschutz, survived. In a recent interview with the force of the landslide, saying it tossed her “like a piece of weightless popcorn” before she lost consciousness. She described regaining consciousness and being trapped between the roof of her house and debris until morning, when she was able to free herself. She said she tried to stay warm by wrapping herself in pieces of fleece cloth.

The landslide, which was estimated to be 450 feet (135 meters) wide, occurred during a storm that brought significant rainfall and gusty winds.

Wrangell is about 155 miles (250 kilometers) south of Juneau.

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Death toll from Alaska landslide hits 5 as authorities recover another body; 1 person still missing